Protect Kids from Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke threatens our children.

young child looking directly at viewer with head on handSecondhand smoke comes from lit cigarettes and cigars. It also comes from smoke breathed out by smokers. When children breathe secondhand smoke, it is like they are smoking, too. Secondhand smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals. Many of these chemicals are poisons that stay in your body.

What do these poisons do? The U.S. Surgeon General asked scientists to find out. They found that secondhand smoke harms everyone, especially children. They also learned that

  • An estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54% of children aged 3–11 years, are exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • They breathe it at home, day care, and in cars.
  • Children have more than twice the level of cotinine (cotinine is a chemical that proves a person has been exposed to tobacco smoke) in their blood as nonsmoking adults.

How does secondhand smoke hurt our children?

Tobacco smoke harms babies, even before they are born by raising their heart rate and slowing down lung growth. It harms children, too, because their lungs and bodies are still growing.

  • One in every five babies born to mothers who smoke has low birth weight. Low birth weight is a leading cause of infant death.
  • Babies who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to die unexpectedly from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also called crib death.
  • Babies and children who breathe secondhand smoke are sick more often with bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.
  • For children with asthma, breathing secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack. The attack can be severe enough to send a child to the hospital. Sometimes an asthma attack is so severe that a child dies.
  • More than 1/3 of New Hampshire children with current asthma lived in a home with someone who smoked cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco.

We must protect children from secondhand smoke everywhere.

At Home. If you take care of children in your home, do not allow anyone to smoke inside. Do not let babysitters, family members, or friends smoke around your children.

In Day Care. Make sure smoking is not allowed in your child’s day care.

At School. Make sure your child’s school is smoke-free inside and out. All school events should be “No Smoking.”

In Public. Choose restaurants and businesses that are smoke-free. “No Smoking” sections in restaurants do not protect children from secondhand smoke.

In Your Car. Do not allow anyone to smoke if children are riding in your car. Rolling down a window does not protect them.

What are other states doing to protect kids?

What are resources for me to help protect New Hampshire kids?