Victoria, Australia - 4 in 10 smokers still light up around children..

October 28, 2009 - Survey finds almost half of Victoria's cigarette smokers still light up around children (kids), despite an increase over the last decade in the number of homes that enforce a no-smoking policy.

New research released today by the Cancer Council Victoria found significant improvement in the efforts of parents to keep tobacco smoke away from their kids. In 1998 just over half of surveyed households had home smoking bans, but in the latest survey just under three quarters of respondents to a phone survey said their household's regular smoker always or usually smoked outside.

If there is a child in the house, it is even more likely (82 percent) the smoker will go outside.

However the researchers said it was not an even trend. Parents were much more likely to protect their children from cigarette smoke when they were aged under five. There was a belief that as their child gets older they are better able to tolerate or avoid smoke exposure.

Also, households in lower socio-economic areas were less likely to enforce home smoking bans.

Outside the home, there has been an increase over the last 11 years in the proportion of smokers who do not smoke at all when they are around children: from 45 percent in 1998 to 56 percent in 2008.

The research was released today at the launch of a new ad campaign by Quit Victoria, titled "Cigarettes are eating you and your kids alive". The ads were copied from a successful New York campaign, and recently also screened in New South Wales.

Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews, who launched the campaign, said Victorians owed it to their children to take a tough stand on this issue.

The ads were funded through the state's Cancer Action Plan, which was launched last year. Under the plan, and the Government's tobacco control strategy, smoking has already been banned in schoolyards and it will be illegal in cars carrying children from January 1, 2010.

Royal Children's Hospital pediatrician Dr Rob Roseby said smoking increases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and elevates the risk of contracting meningococcal disease by a staggering 700 per cent. Poisons like cyanide and carbon monoxide in cigarettes can trigger other chronic health problems including asthma, pneumonia and ear infections, he said. "Most parents who smoke know that their smoking is in some way potentially harmful to their children,'' Dr Roseby said.

Dr. Roseby - passive smoking leads to a "long, sad catalogue of risks" in children, "Smoking causes trans-generational disease," he said. "Children and toddlers are exposed primarily at the home, and then later at places like child care or shopping centres." If a parent smokes their child is twice as likely to go to hospital with pneumonia, twice as likely to get ear disease that must be treated with surgery, and if they need an operation is ten times more likely to have difficulty with anaesthesia.

References: Parents still smoking around children, NICK MILLER,, 10/27/2009; Survey finds four in 10 Victorian smokers still light up around children, Edwina Scott,, 10/27/2009.

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