Medical Reading

Dangers Of Secondhand Smoke Being Ignored

November 08, 2017

New NHS (UK) campaign raises awareness of invisible killer -

Sixty per cent of smokers go ahead and smoke without asking for permission, despite the fact that most non-smokers mind if other people are smoking nearby, according to new research1 launched today by the NHS 'Don't Give Up Giving Up campaign'.

The survey marks the launch of new NHS ads raising awareness of the health risks of secondhand smoke to adults. The poll shows that 21 per cent of non-smokers still don't feel comfortable asking somebody not to smoke near them or in their own home. This is despite the fact that continued exposure to secondhand smoke puts non-smokers at a 24 per cent increased risk of lung cancer and a 25 per cent increased risk of heart disease2.

The adverts, which highlight the fact that 'Secondhand smoke is a killer' also demonstrate that exposure to secondhand smoke makes breathing problems worse for asthma sufferers.

This is the first time the campaign has addressed the issue of secondhand smoke in relation to adults, and within a home environment. According to a recent report3, 95 per cent of estimated deaths from secondhand smoke are due to exposure in the home. Previous NHS campaigns have addressed the issue of smoking around children and helped to raise awareness of the fact that it can be harmful for children to be in a room where somebody has recently smoked even if the room appears not to be smoky, as 85 per cent of smoke is invisible and odourless.

Caroline Flint, Public Health Minister said:

"It is clear that both smokers and non-smokers don't appreciate the full dangers of secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke contains around 4,000 different chemicals, including more than 50 known cancer-causing substances, such as arsenic, formaldehyde and ammonia4. By ignoring these facts and smoking around others they are putting them at serious risk of increased disease. This campaign is designed to show that it's often the places we feel safest that put us at the greatest risk, such as relaxing at home in front of the television.

"We are hoping that this campaign will give smokers an excellent reason to quit smoking - to protect their families, friends and colleagues. By arming everyone with the facts about the very real dangers of secondhand smoke we are providing people another motivation to give up for good."

The television advert will show a group of family and friends relaxing at home watching TV, where one person is smoking. As the advert progresses, the smoke moves around the group, snaking round necks, revealing the long term damage it can cause and then forming a menacing, evil face that looms above the assembled group. It carries the messages that 'Secondhand smoke can restrict the oxygen arond your heart, causing it to fail' and 'It increases your family's chance of getting heart disease by 25 per cent'. New print and radio advertising will also be launched.

Christine Owens, Head of Tobacco Control, The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation said:

"The message of these ads couldn't be clearer - secondhand smoke is a killer. Each year in the UK, secondhand smoke in the home is estimated to account for thousands of deaths3. Like smoking, secondhand smoke is a proven cause of both lung cancer and heart disease. It is estimated that more than 2000 lung cancer deaths can be attributed to exposure to secondhand smoke. This campaign is a major step towards increasing public awareness of these dangers."

What should smokers do?

The best way to protect your family and other adults from secondhand smoke is to give up smoking. For anyone considering stopping there is plenty of help and support available. Call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0 169, for a free and friendly service that offers practical advice about giving up smoking. Callers receive a free information pack with details on how to stop smoking and the different treatments available. You can also receive details of your free local NHS Stop Smoking Service.

If you cannot give up:

- Keep your home smoke-free by smoking outside wherever possible.

- Help protect children by keeping their playing, sleeping and eating areas totally smoke free.

- Don't smoke in the car - smoke is more concentrated in confined spaces.

- If you have to smoke, do it before you set off and take smoke breaks on longer journeys.

What should non-smokers do?

- Keep your home smoke-free by asking visitors to smoke outside.

- Don't let anyone smoke in the car - smoke is more concentrated in confined spaces.

- If the people you're with have to smoke, ask them to smoke before you set off.

- Ensure that you keep children's playing, eating and sleeping areas smoke free.

There are 170 free local NHS Stop Smoking Services throughout the country. Smokers meet with their advisers, either individually or as part of a group, for an hour or two each week for around seven weeks.

They are still smoking when they start the course, and typically spend the first two sessions preparing to give up in the third week.

Advisers can also provide Nicotine Replacement Therapy and bupropion (Zyban) on prescription5. Of those clients who set a quit date during the period April 2004 to March 2005, 297,828 had successfully quit at the 4 week follow up stage; this compares with 204,876 in the same period in 2004 - an increase of 45 per cent.6

To find out about the local NHS Stop Smoking Service nearest to you, phone the NHS Smoking Helpline free on 0800 169 0 169. Smokers who want to quit can also find details of their local NHS Stop Smoking Service by visiting www.givingupsmoking, texting 'GIVE UP' and their full postcode to 88088 or ask at their local GP practice, pharmacy or hospital.

Sources for Statistics

1 Questions were placed on BMRB's Access Omnibus survey, and interviews were conducted in-home using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) by fully trained members of BMRB's own fieldforce. The sample was drawn by means of random location sampling. Interviews were conducted in England only amongst adults aged 16-74 years. The fieldwork dates for the pre-stage were the 12th to the 18th May and 1,205 interviews were achieved. The fieldwork dates for the post-stage were the 22nd to the 29th June and 1,563 interviews were achieved. All the data was weighted to the sample profile of TGI 2003 to allow for comparisons over time. Additional findings include: only a third (37 per cent) of smokers will refrain from smoking, 32 per cent will smoke fewer with 28 per cent still smoking the same number of cigarettes as usual, when in a room with a non-smoker.

2 Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health.

3 Jamrozik.K, Estimate of deaths attributable to passive smoking among UK adults: database analysis, BMJ, 2 March 2005; see also Royal College of Physicians research, July 2005.

4 2002 Regents of the University of California and CMO Annual Report 2003.

5 Free to people who are exempt from prescription charges.

6 According to latest Government figures, local NHS Stop Smoking Services are helping more and more people to quit and stay quit. Of those clients who set a quit date during the period April 2004 to March 2005, 297,828 had successfully quit at the 4 week follow up stage; this compares with 204,876 in the same period in 2004 (an increase of 45%). Around 529,520 people set a quit date through NHS Stop Smoking Services during the period April 2004 to March 2005. At the 4 week follow-up around 297,828 had successfully quit (based on self-report), 56% of those setting a quit date.

Notes to Editors

1. The NHS Smoking Helpline (0800 169 0 169) provides expert, free, and friendly advice to smokers and their families. The helpline is open between 7am and 11pm every day for information requests and referrals, with unlimited access to trained advisers giving one-to-one advice and support from 10am. Since its launch it has received over 1 million calls. A year after first calling the NHS Smoking Helpline, nearly a quarter of callers said they had successfully given up and were still not smoking.

2. NHS Smoking Helpline advisers can refer callers to a local NHS Stop Smoking Service offering ongoing free face-to-face support and advice near their own home. There are 170 throughout the country, offering a range of services including one-to-one meetings and group discussions with trained stop smoking advisers. Over 200,000 smokers kicked the habit after receiving help from NHS Stop Smoking Services in the last year. Of the 529,520 smokers in England who set a quit date between April 2004 and March 2005 over half said they had successfully given up 4 weeks later. Government research shows that smokers are up to 4 times more likely to give up successfully if they use their local NHS Stop Smoking Service together with Nicotine Replacement Therapy than relying on willpower alone.

3. The new campaign will be running from 5th September until 22nd October and will consist of television, radio, press adverts, fulfillment and ambient media. The total campaign, including all advertising, production and direct marketing is worth 5.1 million.

DOH Press Office

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