Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate moms for who they are and all of the wonderful things they do.
It is also a great time for moms to remember the important role they play in influencing the choices their kids make regarding tobacco use. Unfortunately, tobacco use among women remains a serious problem: nearly 20 million women currently smoke, an estimated 200,000 women die every year from smoking, and more than 86,000 kids have already lost their mom to smoking.
Moms who smoke can celebrate Mother’s Day by quitting. And all moms, whether or not they smoke, can celebrate Mother’s Day by taking a number of effective actions to protect their kids from becoming another one of the tobacco industry’s addicted customers and victims. Even if they smoke, what moms say, how they act and the values they communicate through their words and actions have an enormous influence on whether or not their kids smoke. All moms—smokers and nonsmokers alike—can also do a lot to protect their kids from secondhand smoke. How Can Moms Keep Their Children From Smoking? As a parent, you are one of the most important persons in a child’s life, especially when it comes to cigarettes. You can make a big difference in the choices your kids make.
• If you smoke, quit. If you are not successful at first, keep trying. Children from families who smoke are twice as likely to become smokers themselves; but parents who try to quit and talk to their kids about how addictive smoking is, why they want to quit and how important it is to never start can beat those odds.
• Maintain a totally smoke-free home and car (even if you smoke).
• Educate your child about the dangers of cigarette smoking.
• Talk about addiction and how hard it is to quit smoking.
• Emphasize the immediate health effects, like stress, increased blood pressure and coughing.
• Emphasize the effects of smoking on physical appearance, like face wrinkles.
• Talk to your kids about how tobacco companies target them by trying to make tobacco use seem cool so they can addict them as life-long customers.
• Listen to what your child says and does about smoking and encourage your child when he/she makes good choices.
• Ask your child about his/her friends and their attitudes toward smoking. Discuss peer pressure and how to deal with it effectively.
• Clear up any misunderstandings your child might have about smoking (for example: not everybody is doing it, getting hooked can happen very quickly and quitting is very difficult).
• Make sure your kids’ schools have strong and well-enforced no-smoking rules for kids and staff.
• Support federal, state and local tobacco-prevention efforts like higher tobacco taxes, funding for tobacco prevention programs and smoke-free laws.
An estimated 22 million children aged 3 to 11 years and 18 million youth aged 12 to 19 years are exposed to secondhand smoke every year. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. Babies exposed to secondhand smoke face a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and a range of other serious health and developmental problems. Older children who are exposed have increased rates of lower respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma. Exposure to cigarette smoke during childhood may lead to the development of cancer during adulthood. It can also prolong and worsen numerous medical conditions, including pneumonia, bronchitis, croup, laryngitis, bronchiolitis, asthma, flu, ear infections, colds, sinus infections, sore throats and eye irritation, all of which can lead to increased school absenteeism, emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
How can you protect your child from secondhand smoke?
• If you smoke, quit smoking—or at least keep trying.* Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free help quitting smoking. You can also call your local Tobacco Free office for cessation help and information – 260-571-2464, talk to your doctor or sign up for a stop-smoking course at the KCH Health & Wellness Center.
• Do not let anyone smoke in your home. Make sure anyone who smokes only does so outside, away from open doors and windows. If you smoke, wear a “smoking shirt” and remove it before coming into contact with your child, especially infants; and never smoke while holding, feeding or bathing your child. Remember: smoking residues in a home or car can cause harm even when smoking is no longer taking place.
• Never smoke in the car, especially when your child is a passenger.
• Avoid leaving your child with someone who smokes or in smoky environments. Ask about smoking and smoke-free rules and practices when choosing daycare centers or babysitters and even when leaving your kids at other people’s homes.
For any help or information, contact Dan Gray at the Kosciusko County Tobacco Free Coalition office located on 1515 Provident Dr. Warsaw, or call 260-571-2464.