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My Dad Smokes, So Why Shouldn’t I?

Posted in Personal Health 10 Sep, 2014

It's all well and good placing restrictions on the marketing of cigarettes, but this won't stop tobacco corporations profiting from one of the best smoking ads – kids seeing their parents smoke.

If a kid sees an adult who they admire smoking, they may be more likely to start smoking themselves. It could be perceived as something cool, grown up, or even expected if those around him are doing it also.

Inadvertently, some smoking parents are encouraging their children to develop potentially destructive habits that could have long-term implications for their health.

Younger children are easily swayed

Studies have revealed that boys are generally more inclined to pick up the habit if their father smokes, while girls can be influenced by either parent. The earlier a child is exposed to smoking, the more likely they are to start lighting up themselves. It is claimed to be particularly true if they are openly exposed to a smoking parent before the age of 13.

Boys are often drawn to strong male role models. Firefighters. Astronauts. Basically, dads have the power to look like superman to their children. Whatever dads do for a living, the majority of young sons dream of emulating them. So imagine the impact a smoking father has on his child.

Stop polluting your children

Parents who smoke are exposing their children to high levels of nicotine and air pollution. Ash Scotland carried out tests for nicotine exposure on children, aged one to five, from smoking households in Aberdeenshire. Barring one child, all the other children had extremely high levels of nicotine in their saliva.

Two of the children, aged three and five, were living in an environment where pollution was 50 times greater than heavy peak-time traffic in Edinburgh city centre, and about 20 times higher than recommended levels.

For these parents, a reminder might be needed as to just how easily smoke travels and resides in the air. If parents are finding it increasingly difficult to quit smoking, they should take extra precautions to smoke outside and make their home and car completely smoke-free. It is advised though in all cases, to make an active effort to stop smoking, through clinical advice, support of friends and families, and treatments aimed at stopping smoking.

What are the risks to my child?

If you smoke around your child, they may experience several long-lasting health risks including:

  • Interference with natural growth
  • Greater chance of respiratory complications
  • Higher risk of early death
  • Higher chance of cancerous developments

A recent news report from HealthDay news also claims that men who smoke before they become a parent are more likely to put their children at an increased risk of suffering from asthma. Although not conclusive, it can be suggested that prevention is better than inception.

TV adverts aren't explicit enough

Remember those adverts where children plead with their parent to quit because they don't want their daddy or mummy to die? Other adverts demonstrated just how much invisible tobacco smoke was lingering in the air when someone smoked in the car.

While that's all shocking enough, they don't really focus on the long-term dangers that smoking parents pose to children. They don't mention that children of smoking parents are more likely to be admitted to hospital with serious respiratory difficulties far more frequently than those from smoke-free homes.

So not only are smoking parents setting a bad example, but their children also have no choice in the matter unless mummy or daddy decides to stop smoking. Is that fair to someone who isn't even old enough to know what smoking is?

With Stoptober coming up next month, there couldn't be a better time for parents (and singletons) to try and kick the habit. Go ahead and join the Stoptober Challenge and gain access to lots of free tools and comedy content to help you quit.

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