The Dangers of Secondhand Smoking Around Children
As a mom, you want the best of everything for your children. You’ll drive all over town to get them to lessons and sporting events, bend over backwards to plan the perfect birthday party and go to bat for them at school if they need more time or attention from their teachers. There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for your kids, right?
If you’re a smoker, there’s still one thing left to do to protect your children’s health and wellbeing: You must protect them from secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke is a much bigger problem than a disagreeable odor. All the smoke that you exhale and the smoke that rises into the air from the tip of a burning cigarette pollute your child’s breathing space and can have serious negative effects on your kids’ health.
When your child’s environment is filled with secondhand smoke, it’s not just their organs that are at risk. He or she is much more likely to experience the following health problems.
The Risks of Secondhand Smoke for Kids
When your child’s environment is filled with secondhand smoke, he or she is much more likely to experience the following health problems:
• Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
• Learning disabilities
• Ear infections
• Upper respiratory problems, including coughs and colds
• Severe lung infections like bronchitis and pneumonia
• Cavities and tooth decay
• Allergic reactions to smoke, which can include wheezing, headaches, dry eyes, sore throat and hoarseness, in addition to other cold symptoms
• Asthma attacks, as these are often triggered by secondhand smoke and can become more severe over time
These problems can cause children to miss more days of school than their peers, which can cause them to fall behind in their academics. They can also keep kids from enjoying things they love to do, like playing organized sports or hanging out with friends.
In addition to these immediate health risks, exposure to secondhand smoke can set your kids up for a lifetime of problems, including:
• Cataracts, which can lead to blindness
• Heart disease
• Incomplete lung development
• Lung cancer
• A much greater risk for becoming smokers themselves and continuing the cycle of secondhand smoke with their children (your future grandchildren!)
How to Protect Your Kids From Secondhand Smoke
If you are the smoker in your household, redouble your efforts to stop smoking. It’s easier said than done, and you’ve been subjected to a lifetime of advertising signals to get you take up the habit in the first place, but it’s never too later to quit.
If the smoker is someone else, open a dialogue about the risks to your children. Many people have trouble quitting for themselves, but will be more likely to make the effort when the health of children they love is at stake.
You can also take care to keep your children out of restaurants that allow smoking, hire childcare providers who are non-smokers and institute a no smoking policy for guests in your home. Though it may feel hard to do this at first, the only thing you need to say to anyone who questions you is that your kids’ healthy comes first. Period.
With all the things you do for you kids, don’t forget to keep the air that they breathe safe and healthful. When they grow up healthy and strong, they’ll thank you for making the effort to cut dangerous secondhand smoke out of their lives for good.