Give children the very best start in life - with a Smoke-Free Home

Deirdre McDaid, Surestart Edenballymore, pictured with the Smoke free home kit. (0803SL07) Photo: Stephen Latimer
Deirdre McDaid, Surestart Edenballymore, pictured with the Smoke free home kit. (0803SL07) Photo: Stephen Latimer
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Later today, the campaign’s banner will be officially launched at Free Derry Corner and those behind the innovative health kick are confident that the campaign will reap rewards.

An ambitious new campaign encouraging local parents to protect family health with Smoke-Free Homes has just been launched by SureStart Edenballymore - the first campaign of its kind in Northern Ireland...

Later today, the campaign’s banner will be officially launched at Free Derry Corner and those behind the innovative health kick are confident that the campaign will reap rewards.

“We know that one of the best things a parent can do for their children’s health is make their home and family car smoke-free,” says Deirdre McDaid, Manager of SureStart Edenballymore, based in Creggan’s Central Drive.

“We know that parents want to give their children the very best start in life, so we hope this campaign will encourage and support smokers to alter their smoking habits around children, young people and pregnant mothers in both their home and family car.”

Deirdre warns of the damaging effect of second-hand smoke - smoke breathed in from other people smoking.

“This particularly affects babies and children as they breathe deeper and faster therefore take in more smoke,” she says.

“Also, because their vital organs are still developing they are more likely to be damaged by the 4,000 chemicals in any one cigarette. Research has shown that babies and children exposed to a smoky atmosphere in the home suffer more from asthma and chest infections. They are more likely than those not exposed to smoke in the home to need hospital care and to lose time from school.”

A smoke-free home can also help smokers quit and can reduce the risk of children and young people becoming smokers in future.

“We know how hard it can be to tell family and friends that you don’t want them smoking in your home,” Deidre continues, “Perhaps you’ve let people smoke in your home in the past, so you might find it difficult to ask them to stop, but your visitors will understand and will be happy to respect your wishes.”

SureStart’s Smoke-Free Homes Campaign coincides with another important milestone too. Fifty years ago this week, a key report ‘Smoking and Health’ was published by the Royal College of Physicians, heralding a stark change in public attitudes. For the first time, the many health risks and links between smoking and lung cancer were illuminated.

In the 50 years since, attitudes to smoking have changed enormously - a change reflected in the figures. In 1962, about 70% of men and 40% of women in the UK smoked, compared with just 21% of men and women today. In the 21st Century, smoking has finally become a minority pasttime.

The campaign hopes that until they can quit altogether, smokers in the North West will take the Smoke Free Home Pledge and choose to smoke outside.

As well as protecting your children from the health risks associated with inhaling tobacco smoke, second hand smoke also exposes everyone who breathes it to health risks such as cancer, heart disease and respiratory conditions.

People often think that opening windows and doors, not smoking in front of children or smoking under the extractor fan will remove the dangers of inhaling second hand smoke. This is not the case; harmful chemicals are left behind, lingering in the air and sticking to clothes, furniture and toys and adversely affecting children.

Campaigners insist that the overwhelming benefits will begin from the minute you ban tobacco smoke in your home. So start the ball rolling by removing ashtrays from your house, spring clean to rid your home of that stale tobacco smell and set up a smoking area outside.

Smoking in cars is causing untold damage too. The confined space in the car increases the level of exposure and the harm caused. Opening the windows does not remove smoke as it simply blows back into the car and the chemicals can linger for up to two weeks.

So take the ‘Smoke Free Home’ pledge and protect those you love most.

Sign the pledge and you’ll even receive ‘Smoke Free Home’ goodies. Encourage your relatives and grandparents to sign the smoke free pledge and make their home smoke free, too.

You can pledge online on their Facebook site or: www.surestartebm.com, just click the pledge link and complete the form. Alternatively, pledge over the phone on: 71. 371670 and you’ll receive your free goody bag.

Make the change and join the Smoke Free Revolution!