Doctors Call For Tough Measures To Break The Tobacco Trap To Protect Children From Tobacco Smoke In Scotland
Ten-pack cigarettes should be banned, shops that sell cigarettes should be required to have licences and keep cigarettes under the counter and tobacco vending machines should be outlawed. These are the some of the hard-hitting recommendations in the BMA'
Ten-pack cigarettes should be banned, shops that sell cigarettes should be required to have licences and keep cigarettes under the counter and tobacco vending machines should be outlawed. These are the some of the hard-hitting recommendations in the BMA's report Breaking the cycle of children's exposure to tobacco smoke, launched.
Children exposed to tobacco smoke suffer serious health consequences that include respiratory illness, cancer and heart disease. Children of parents who smoke are between two and three times more likely to smoke than those who come from non-smoking homes. In Scotland, 6% of 13 year olds and 19% of 15 year olds are regular smokers.
Angus GP and Scottish member of the BMA's Board of Science, Dr Andrew Thomson said: "Scotland's smoking ban has been a success. More people are protected from the dangers of second hand smoke in enclosed public places and more people are giving up smoking.
"Scots are now more aware of the dangers of tobacco smoke and we only hope that, as in other countries with similar legislation, the number of smoke free homes in Scotland will have increased to protect our children.
"From 1 July, when England joins the rest of us, the entire UK will enjoy smoke-free enclosed public places. However, more must be done to make cigarettes more inaccessible to children. By increasing the purchase age to 18, banning ten-pack cigarettes and making tobacco products more expensive, fewer children will be able to buy them. It is essential we break the tobacco trap as the younger someone starts to smoke, the less likely they are to give up. This is the agenda we will be pursuing in the next Scottish Parliament."
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of BMA Science and Ethics, said today: "Young smokers will become tomorrow's parents who smoke and they will continue the cycle of smoking-related ill-health and premature death in families. One of the best ways to prevent children starting to smoke is to help their parents quit. Adequately resourced and targeted smoking cessation services are key to this.
"We also need to break the cycle of tobacco deprivation caused by smoking. In low income families, parents' addiction to tobacco can divert scarce funds away from meeting basic needs."
Although evidence from other countries that have gone smoke-free indicates that smoking in the home goes down after smoke free laws come into force, the fact that in the UK around five million children are exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes is of major concern.
Dr Nathanson added: "The BMA report says that the only home that does not endanger children from tobacco is a smoke-free home. Measures such as opening windows or doors, smoking less, and not smoking in front of children simply don't work.
Smoking in cars presents a real danger to exposing children to concentrated levels of tobacco smoke. Over half of all journeys made by children are in cars, and this creates a significant source of exposure to second-hand smoke.
Key recommendations from the report include:
-- The UK health departments should ensure that smoking cessation services are adequately funded and resourced. In addition to money already provided, two per cent of the revenues raised from tobacco tax should be ring-fenced for use in providing cessation services especially in areas of deprivation.
-- Smoking cessation services should be targeted at high risk groups to include those in the lower socio-economic groups, pregnant mothers, those with mental health problems and children who are looked after by the state, in foster care or in institutional settings.
-- Taxation on all tobacco products should be standardised and increased at higher than inflation rates to reduce the affordability and therefore availability of cigarettes.
-- Cigarettes should not be displayed at the point of sale and tobacco vending machines should be banned.
-- Legislation to ban the sale of packs of 10 cigarettes should be introduced.
-- Legislation raising the minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 18 should be introduced across the UK and strictly enforced.
-- A positive licensing scheme, already in place for shops that wish to sell alcohol, should be introduced. This would bring tobacco sales into line with alcohol sales.
-- The UK governments should continue with country-wide media campaigns to inform the public about the health effects of exposure to second-hand smoke at home and in cars.
-- Healthcare professionals should inform parents who smoke of the health risks that it poses to their children. This is particularly important for children who already have an illness that is caused or exacerbated by parental smoking. Parents who smoke should be encouraged and helped to quit smoking, and to adopt smoke-free homes if they continue to smoke.
Breaking the cycle of children's exposure to tobacco smoke can be accessed on the BMA website