Imagine your child wheezing, working hard for every breath he takes. You rush him to the Emergency Room. He is suffering from another severe asthma attack, which he developed when he was a baby. Why? Your child has been expose to secondhand smoke. This scenario may not be your community’s worst problem, but I just want to address some concerns on the affects of secondhand smoke to children’s health and their future. Secondhand smoke affects everybody, but most especially it affects children’s health.
The American Lung Association estimated 150,000 to 300,000 cases of infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia in infants and children under 18 months of age every year from secondhand smoke. Children from birth to 2 years of age are especially vulnerable to lung diseases because their lungs are not fully developed. Asthma is more likely to develop with children who breathe secondhand smoke (www. alaw. org). It can also exacerbate frequent attacks.
Babies are three times more likely to die form Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if their mothers smoke during pregnancy. Ear infection, coughs, sore throat and even cancer can also develop if children are expose to secondhand smoke. With all these harmful effects of secondhand smoke to children, there are ways to protect them from it. First, as a parent, don’t smoke. If you are a smoker, quit! If you can’t, don’t smoke in your house, in the car or near your children.
Have a permanent place outside the house just for smoking purposes only. Make sure that your child’s day-care, school or playgrounds are smoke free. Educate everybody you know about the hazard of secondhand smoke to children’s heath. Secondhand smoke is very dangerous to children’s health because it can become a serious risk facing children of today and tomorrow. But through education and awareness, children can have a better and healthier life free from secondhand smoke.