June 8, 2009 – Second-hand smoke is unsafe at any dose. This is the message of a new campaign the Health Department launched today to highlight the hazards of environmental tobacco smoke and the importance of having a smoke-free home, especially for children. The developing lungs of young children are severely affected by second-hand smoke, and kids are easily exposed because they have higher breathing rates and little control over their environments.
An estimated 400,000 New York City smokers are adults who live with children. A growing proportion of them have barred smoking within their own homes (the proportion has risen by 55% since 2002), but the City’s most recent Community Health Survey suggests that more than half of adult smokers still lack smoke-free homes.
The Health Department’s new campaign features an ad in which a young girl watches television in her family’s living room while her father smokes a cigarette next to an open kitchen window. As the father inhales, the viewer follows the smoke as it permeates the child’s lungs as well as his own. The tagline: “It’s not only smokers who get sick.”
The ad, which can be viewed online at www.nyc.gov/health, was produced by Quit Victoria, in Australia. The Health Department adapted it for use in New York City.
“When parents smoke, they put their child’s health in danger,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Second-hand smoke damages children’s developing lungs, contributes to their asthma and ear infections, and increases their risk of becoming smokers themselves. If you haven’t quit yet, start by making your home smoke-free today for your kids.”
Second-hand smoke contains 4,000 toxic chemicals, including cyanide, carbon monoxide and benzene. Every year, it contributes to more than 750,000 ear infections and 200,000 cases of asthma among U.S. children. It also makes children more susceptible to pneumonia and contributes to lifelong health conditions such as asthma.
The Health Department is also re-airing a television spot called “Carotid,” which vividly illustrates how fatty deposits in smokers’ arteries increase the risk of stroke.
Quit smoking and make your home smoke-free
Quitting smoking, and making your home smoke-free, are the surest ways to protect yourself and your family. Smoking in a separate room, opening a window, or using an air filter does not protect non-smokers. When you make your home smoke-free, the rule needs to cover everyone – family members, caregivers and friends. Studies suggest that smokers who live in smoke-free homes are more likely to try to quit, and more likely to succeed. Any New Yorker who needs help quitting can call 311 or 866-NYQUITS.
Here are 10 tips to make quitting easier:
Prepare yourself. Make a list of your reasons for quitting and read it often.
Pick a quit date. Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and all cigarettes.
Have a smoke-free car and home. It is healthier for others and will help you resist smoking.
Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are quitting and ask for their support.
Get a quit buddy. Ask a smoker to quit with you, or find someone who has already quit who you can talk to for support.
Notice what triggers cravings. Alcohol, coffee and stress can make you feel like smoking. Seeing others smoke can have the same effect.
Consider using medications. The nicotine patch or gum or prescription medications can double your chance of success.
Help yourself cope. Drink a lot of water to help with cravings. Exercise to relieve stress.
Get your mind off smoking. Get busy with a simple task: talk to a friend or take a walk. Avoid places and situations you associate with smoking.
Stay away from that first cigarette! Having even one can make you start smoking again. Cravings will lessen the longer you resist them.
For more information on making your home smoke-free, please see How to Make Your Home Smoke-Free (PDF). New Yorkers who want to quit smoking to protect themselves and others can call 311 for help.