Second-hand smoke is especially dangerous to children. Find out why children are at greater risk and how you can keep your tamariki safe so they can live long and healthy lives.
What is second-hand smoke?
Second-hand smoke refers to being exposed to the harmful effects of tobacco because someone is smoking near you. It includes the smoke the person has breathed out (exhaled smoke) and also smoke from the burning cigarette.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, second-hand smoke is the greatest cause of death from something in the environment. There is no safe amount of exposure to second-hand smoke. People who are exposed to second-hand smoke can suffer many of the same diseases that smokers get, such as lung cancer, coronary heart disease, nasal sinus cancer and stroke.
Children are at higher risk
Children are particularly at risk of second-hand smoke because of their lower body weight and smaller lungs. Tamariki need to be protected from second-hand smoke since it can increase their risk of:
- middle ear infections and glue ear
- lower respiratory illness, such as bronchitis, croup, pneumonia and bronchiolitis
- meningococcal disease
- sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).
It can also affect their lung development, and their learning and behaviour. Exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy can reduce foetal growth and lead to other complications.
Smoking in your car
From 28 November 2021, it will be illegal to smoke or vape in a vehicle that has tamariki under 18 years of age in it (whether the vehicle is moving or not). Read about how you can drive smokefree for tamariki.
Tips on protecting your tamariki from second-hand smoke
- Make your home and car strictly smokefree areas, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- Ask for support from your family/whānau by following your no smoking house and car rules.
- Throw away all the ashtrays in your home.
- Get rid of all your lighters.
- Be a good role model and never smoke in front of children. This can reduce the risk of them growing up to be smokers.
- If you smoke, get support to stop now. Support doubles your chance of staying quit.