Healthy Hearts Day promotes smokefree cars at Beau Sejour on 25 September 2011

September 23rd, 2011 by Health Promotion Unit

On Healthy Hearts Day, the Health Promotion Unit and the Environmental Health Unit will have a car outside Beau Sejour Leisure Centre filled with cigarette butts and the chemicals children will be exposed to when adults smoke in a car.

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Gerry Le Roy, Health Promotion Officer for Smoking and Heart disease, said “The dangers of secondhand smoke are well established and in Guernsey it has been against the law to smoke in vehicles used for work since 2 July 2006. However, there has been no restriction on smoking in cars with children on board even though researchers have found that secondhand smoke levels in vehicles are often greater than in many other enclosed areas.

Children are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke as it increases their risk of glue ear, asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis. It also increases the risk of cot death.

Second hand smoke (SHS) – also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a combination of exhaled smoke and smoke from the burning tip of a tobacco product. It is a mixture of more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 40 known agents that cause cancer. Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide, a gas that affects the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the vital organs such as the heart and brain.

Jane Cutting Environmental Health Officer, added “Cars are enclosed spaces with low ceilings which means that the smoke will be thickest around the head height of children. The inside fabric of the car becomes impregnated with particles which continue to be breathed in by children long after the cigarette has been put out. Given that children breathe faster than an adult, breathing secondhand smoke in vehicles adds to this very serious health problem, both in the short and long term”.

Why opening a window won’t help

Opening a window helps to reduce the sight and smell of smoke but it does not remove the smoke quickly enough to address the health effects of second hand smoke. Even with a window open, the level of smoke measured can often be higher than that found in some bars before smoking was banned.

To protect children from the cocktail of dangerous chemicals in the smoke we would advise adults, who carry children in their car, to only smoke outside the car.

On Sunday 25 September 2011 information leaflets will be handed out and people will be asked whether they think legislation should be put in place to ban smoking in cars with children onboard.

For further information please contact the Health Promotion Unit on 707311.

References

ASH Fact sheet Smoking in Cars

ASH Secondhand Smoke: the impact on children

Royal College of Physicians, Passive Smoking and Children March 2010

ASH Scotland Secondhand smoke in cars

 

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