Fact 1: Your child is far more susceptible than you to the toxins in cigarette smoke because their body is still developing and their breathing rate is faster than yours. In short, their young lungs receive a higher concentration of inhaled toxins from smoke.
Fact 2: If you are a smoker, your child is more prone to colds, ear and chest infections, asthma attacks, coughing and wheezing. This inevitably affects their performance and attendance in school.
You smoke, they learn the habit
Children like to mimic their parents’ behaviour. If you smoke, your child is more likely to pick up smoking in future. A study by Dartmouth College in the US shows that children with parents who smoked were four times more likely to buy cigarettes, compared to children of non-smoker parents. They are also more likely to pick up smoking later in life, says the Health Promotion Board (HPB) which initiated its Student Health Survey in 2006. That showed that a significantly more youth smokers (59 per cent) had at least one parent who smoked, compared to those who did not smoke (34 per cent).
Even when your child is in the womb
Smoking harms, even to an unborn child. Pregnant women who smoke are strongly advised to quit for the health of both mother and baby as it can cause serious problems including miscarriage, labour complications, premature birth and stillbirth.
Experts also strongly advise women who are planning to have a baby to stub it out since lowers a woman's fertility level because it affects her ovaries and cuts oestrogen levels.
I forbid them to smoke, it only harms me
Wrong. Second-hand smoke is a toxic cocktail of poisons and carcinogens. It contains more than 4,000 harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide, which are known to be toxic and cancer causing. When a smoker lights up, he inhales and exhales half the smoke (mainstream smoke). The other half floats around in the air (sidestream smoke). Environmental tobacco smoke, which gives rise to passive smoking, is made up of mainstream and sidestream smoke.
Then there’s third-hand smoke is the smoke that is left behind after a cigarette is extinguished. Cigarette smoke contains gases and small particles that are deposited on every surface it comes in contact with, from the smoker’s hair, body and clothing, to toys, bedding, carpets and furniture. Even after he finishes a cigarette, a smoker brings dangerous toxins into the house. This is especially dangerous for children, who ingest the same amount of harmful chemicals as the smoker through their bodies and hands when they play and crawl on contaminated surfaces.
Anyway, each cigarette contains over 4,000 harmful chemicals, of which 400 are poisonous and at least 60 are carcinogenic. The top 10 most toxic substances are:
• Nicotine ― an addictive drug.
• Acetone ― found in nail polish remover.
• Ammonia ― found in floor cleaners.
• Cadmium ― a carcinogenic substance used in car batteries.
• Carbon monoxide ― found in exhaust fumes.
• Tar ― a substance used to surface roads.
• DDT ― found in insecticide.
• Formaldehyde ― for embalming dead bodies.
• Arsenic ― found in white ant poison.
• Napthalene ― found in moth balls.
And don’t think that e-cigarettes are off the hook either. The HPB warns against them because the liquid chemical mixture isn’t just water, it contains nicotine (see above) and propylene glycol (which can be an irritant). They also produce secondhand emissions. Also, the cartridges and refilling bottles are not childproof and may leak — even adults have been known to use them by mistake for eyedrops.
Next page for SmartParents quit tips!
Here’s how to kick the habit:
• Have a quit plan.
• Get family and friends to support you.
• Stay away from people, places and situations that might tempt you to smoke, especially in the first few days of quitting.
• Avoid temptation ― throw away all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.
• Think of yourself as a non-smoker.
• Change your daily routine to break up your habits and patterns.
• Do things that require you to use your hands, like household chores, handicraft or gardening.
• Nibble on healthy snacks (like carrot sticks or pieces of fruit) and drink plenty of water.
• Exercise regularly. Regular exercise relieves stress and makes you feel more energetic.
• Learn relaxation techniques to relieve tension and stress, like deep breathing exercises and muscle relaxation.
• If you miss holding a cigarette, use another object instead, such as a pencil, paper clip, coin or tooth pick.
• It is usually fine for pregnant women to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy products, although you should consult your health professional first before using them.
Pharmacotherapy products Products that help to ease the withdrawal symptoms many smokers experience when they first quit smoking have proven to double a smoker’s chances of quitting successfully. These include Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) in various forms. Patches, chewing gum, inhalers and lozenges can be bought over-the-counter at clinics and pharmacies. Prescription drugs that aid smoking cessation are also available. These nicotine-free remedies, such as bupropion hydrochloride and varenicline tartrate, can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Smoking cessation advice Pharmacists recommend suitable pharmacotherapy products. Available at retail pharmacy chains such as Guardian Health and Beauty, Watsons Pharmacy and Unity The Living Pharmacy.
HPB’s Quitline ― 1800-438 2000 This toll-free confidential telephone service offers smokers advice on how to quit smoking and how to help someone quit.
Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking: Be A Happy Non-Smoker For The Rest Of Your Life, by Allen Carr (Call no: 613.85 CAR-[HEA])
Free Yourself From Smoking: A 3-Point Plan To Kill Nicotine Addiction, by Kristina Ivings (Call no: 616.8506 IVI [HEA])
Quit Smoking For Good: 52 Brilliant Little Ideas To Kick The Habit, by Clive Hopwood and Peter Cross (Call no: 616.86506 HOP-[HEA])
Quit Smoking Without Gaining Weight