Protect children from tobacco smoke

Tobacco smoke is the most significant and dangerous indoor pollutant. It contains several thousand substances, some of which irritate the respiratory tract (eg formaldehyde and ammonia). Other substances in tobacco smoke are carcinogenic. These include nitrosamines, benzene and benzpyrene and many more. A total of 40 substances in tobacco smoke are considered carcinogenic. These substances pass through the tobacco smoke emitted by the ember cone of the cigarette holder, into the air. The concentration of hazardous substances is sometimes significantly higher in this so-called sidestream smoke than in the smoke inhaled by the smoker.

Passive smoking makes children sick

In Germany, about 50% of all children grow up in households that smoke. That's about 7.5 million children up to the age of 15 years. Unfortunately, more and more young women smoke and even 20% of all mothers, which is a major health risk especially for babies and toddlers. These tend to be more than 90% indoors and have no way of avoiding passive smoking when smoking there.

Risks for unborn and young children

Children are heavily burdened by involuntary smoking during pregnancy. For the unborn, the risks of low birth weight, premature birth and even stillbirth increase. In the womb, the maturation of the lungs and the development of the wake-up center in the child's brain may be impaired.

The risk of Sudden Infant Deaths is threefold compared to babies who do not need to smoke.

Young children absorb more pollutants from the air they breathe, as they breathe in and out about two to three times more than larger ones. Acute, passive smoking can lead to conjunctival irritation, headache and nausea.

But even more dangerous are the long-term consequences. For example, the following diseases are particularly common among children who need to smoke in their families:

  • Lower respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia
  • chronic middle ear infections and middle ear effusions
  • bronchial asthma
  • Reinforcement of allergic skin symptoms and
  • Damage to the inner wall of blood vessels (favoring arteriosclerosis).

How do I protect my child best?

Think together in the family how to make the apartment and the car smoke free. If neither balcony nor terrace is available, it will be difficult, especially if you live in an upper floor of an apartment building. If you want to use the kitchen or living room as a "smoking room" while your child is asleep, you must always provide good ventilation. Unfortunately, the smoke can hardly be completely eliminated - and he "strays" again and again into other rooms.

Consult with your midwife or pediatrician. This is also advisable if you want to breastfeed, but can not stop smoking.

What else should I think about?

Also tell visitors, even close relatives, that you do not want to smoke in your home, and especially in your child's environment. Smoke-free should also be other possible abodes of your child, such as Hort, home of the childminder, kindergarten, school and sports clubs. Unfortunately, it is not self-evident to not smoke at family gatherings and other events when children are present.

Health policy is urged to extend the protection of non-smokers to all means of transport and public buildings and facilities, including playgrounds, so that children no longer need to smoke.

How do I make the step into the smoke-free environment?

Smoking is an addiction to many young parents. It is very hard for you to quit smoking, even if you actually want to - also for the sake of your child - stop. Although the benefits of smoking cessation are obvious, overcoming dependency is often not possible without assistance. Talk to your doctor or call a smoke consultant!


  • Federal Center for Health Education:
    Telephone consultation for smoking cessation
    01805 31 31 31
  • German Cancer Research Center: Phone 06221 - 42 42 00 Monday to Friday 2 to 6 pm

Source: Bundesveband der Kinder- und Jugendärzte eV

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