Alex Cunningham, Member of Parliament for Stockton North, has today called on the Government to stop pussy-footing around and take real action to tackle and prevent the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, particularly to children.
The call comes as the Government launches an advertising campaign to warn of the dangers posed by passive smoking. More than 80 per cent of second-hand smoke is both invisible and odorless, containing in excess of 4,000 chemicals – many of which are harmful, cancer-causing toxins and poisons.
The Royal College of Physicians has published research which shows that over 800 children visit their doctor every day due to the serious harm caused by inhaling second-hand smoke. In the North East alone, the research reveals that 13,000 young people require hospital or GP treatment every year after breathing in smoke.
Figures from Fresh NE estimate that, across the Stockton Borough, 17.8% of adults smoke regularly, which equates to 27,600 smokers. However, this rises to 24.5% among those employed in routine and manual occupations. Alarmingly, 68% of parents who smoke admit to doing so in the car with their children present.
Nearly one-in-five (18%) deaths among adults over the age of 35 is estimated to be as a result of smoking which, at current smoking levels, results in approximately 273 deaths in Stockton Borough each year directly attributable to smoking. This is on top of the estimated 2,164 hospital appointments per year arising as a consequence of smoking-related diseases.
“The evidence published this week is as clear as day: second-hand smoke is exceptionally bad for our health. What is even more worrying is the detrimental impact this is having on the health of our children. Every day millions of children in the UK are exposed to second-hand smoke, which puts them at increased risk of lung disease, meningitis and cot death.
“The Government’s response to this developing crisis, in the form of an informative educational campaign, is welcome but is vastly insufficient. In a situation that requires robust action to achieve results, the only way to completely protect against second-hand smoke is to make homes and cars entirely smoke free. A good starting point would be to ban smoking in cars where children are present – something I’m going to try to get into law yet again, when the Children and Families Bill returns to the Commons later this month.”