After 5th December 2016, it is illegal in Scotland to smoke in the car with children. DAVID ROBERTSON of Ash Scotland offers support to help dads and others to stub out the habit for good as the new law takes effect.
CHANGE is in the air to protect our kids from the harm caused by second-hand smoke. Since 2006 when indoor public places became smoke-free there has been much better awareness of the harm caused by other people’s tobacco smoke. Now most smokers do so outside the home, and avoid smoking in the car with passengers.
However, about a fifth of 13 to 15 year olds are still exposed to smoking in the car and even with the window open, the level of harmful chemicals reach very high levels in just 60 seconds.
For dad-of-two Darren, it was this mounting evidence – and the clear effect of his smoking on his children – which prompted him to stub out the habit once and for all. The crunch came one day when he noticed Craig, his primary-school-aged son, leaning on the window sill with pencil in mouth copying him as he smoked on the garden wall outside.
"That was it for me," said Darren. "I’d been thinking for a while about the effect my smoking was having on my breathing because I was starting to struggle a bit at weekly indoor football. But seeing wee Craig copying me just flicked a switch inside me.”
With his other son, Stevie, starting secondary school and reaching the age when Darren started smoking, he knew he needed to put his family first. “I thought if I made a go of quitting the fags maybe that’d give both my boys something to think about.”
A VULNERABLE AGE
It’s true that you are 72% more likely to take up smoking if one of your parents smokes. Most people who start smoking do so when they are mid-teens at a time of important brain development - when the effect of nicotine can make it much harder to stop in later life.
We also know that reducing exposure to second hand smoke in cars protects children and young people from conditions such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia and asthma – not to mention avoiding a lot of car sickness too!
So, because kids don’t always get a say in the matter, new legislation is being introduced from 5th December 2016 which makes it illegal to smoke in a car if you have passengers aged under 18. If caught, the driver of the vehicle could face a £100 fixed penalty fine.
Maybe this new legislation is the nudge you needed to quit smoking for good? It can be tough, but as Darren discovered, there is support available for those determined to give up.
MAKING KIDS PROUD
“My wife Sheena had given up when she was pregnant with Craig and had banned me from the house when the health visitor signed us up to be a smoke-free home so I knew I would have her support – to be honest she’d been at me all year since I started complaining about wheezing at football!”
“The biggest surprise was when I got caught two weeks into my first quit attempt by Stevie. Instead of telling his mum right away, he actually brought me a leaflet from school about stop smoking support at the community centre and he told me that the “drugsteacher” had said it was better to get help to fight the “withdrawal symptoms”. We had a laugh about it!”
Stevie was very proud of his dad for giving up the fags. “You could tell the way he always mentioned it when folk came around the house! The good news is that over about six months we saved the £600 for a long weekend a Centre Parks – mountain-biking, canoes, the lot! The boys loved it and I’ve quit for good!”
Darren’s story backs up what the experts say about helping to prevent kids from starting to smoke; Make your home and vehicle smoke-free so the kids don’t get exposed to second-hand smoke which can lead to asthma, more colds and respiratory problems.
If you smoke, stop so that the kids don’t have that home influence to start them off. Boys in particular want to be like their dad.
Share your quit journey with the family; it’s good to show that it isn’t an easy thing to quit so that if they are thinking of starting, they know dad struggled and maybe needed to ask for help. Save the money to treat the family, that way, the kids see and can appreciate what can be afforded if you don’t spend money on fags!
For more information on the impact of smoking on children visit ASH Scotland and for dad advice try Freddyfit. Posters and stickers can be downloaded from Healthier Scotland’s website protectyourkids.scot, which also has more detailed information about the new legislation.
Darren and his family are fictional but based on real life exchanges from the experiences of stop smoking practitioners.