AN INITIATIVE to reduce the harmful effects of second-hand smoke is being extended across Lancashire following a successful scheme in the east of the county.
The Smokefree Homes Programme, run by the Bacup-based Maden Community and Children’s Centre with Lancashire County Council, aims to encourage people to stop smoking in their homes and cars.
People who are exposed to second-hand smoke in the long-term increase their risks of developing heart disease and lung cancer by a quarter. They increase their chances of having a stroke by three-quarters.
County Councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “More than 207,000 people across Lancashire smoke – that’s more than 2! 2% of the county’s population.
“As well as damaging their own health, their smoke affects those around them. Research has shown that when you breathe in other people’s cigarette smoke, you’re much more likely to suffer from life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.”
Children exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of developing bronchitis, asthma symptoms, middle-ear infections (glue ear), meningitis and sudden infant death syndrome.
More than one third of children across Lancashire live in a home where someone smokes and a major aim of Smokefree Homes is to protect them from breathing in harmful tobacco fumes.
“Because more people in disadvantaged are as smoke, it is one of the major causes of health inequalities across the county.”
Fire officers, social workers and staff in children’s centres will be trained to encourage residents they support to keep their homes smokefree as part of this scheme. Smokefree Homes pledges and car and window stickers will also be provided.
Jo McCullagh, the county council’s stop smoking and tobacco specialist, said: “People who smoke in their homes or cars cause serious health consequences for those who live with them.
“Children are especially at risk from the effects of second-hand smoke because they have smaller blood vessels and their organs are still developing. Therefore they breathe faster and breathe in more toxic chemicals than adults. !
“We’re encouraging people to keep their homes smokefree, and to sign up to our smokefree homes pledge as a sign of their commitment. Pledges are available from social or community workers, or you can pick them up from your local community or children’s centre.
“There’s no better time to start so make your smokefree homes promise today.”
The scheme has already been a huge success in east Lancashire and has seen over 12,000 people sign up to the smokefree pledge.