Don’t be a dummy ““ know the dangers of smoking in cars

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service will be showing you how to avoid being a dummy next month – and cut down on your smoking into the bargain.

Two special “test dummies” will be helping with a demonstration at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium on Saturday 7 August to highlight the dangers of smoking in cars. Both were part of a study done in the West Midlands to find out the damage done to people travelling in cars by fellow passengers or the driver.

As part of the demonstration, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue will be filling a car with “safe smoke” to show how it can circulate quickly in an enclosed space, and how it can affect those travelling in the car. It has been estimated that smoking just one cigarette in a car, even with the window open, creates a harmful concentration of tobacco smoke. The largely invisible smoke, clings to the car’s upholstery, children’s car seats and passengers, putting people at risk of serious illnesses.

A recent study carried out in the West Midlands shows that people who inhale cigarette smoke while they are in a car, can inhale as much as three times the amount that would be considered safe to inhale over the course of a day. Even with the car’s windows or air conditioning on, it didn’t reduce it by a significant amount. The toddler sized dolls used in the study and the results from the research will be on display on the day, to highlight the effects of second hand smoke, in particular, the harmful effects on children.

Councillor Terry Follows, cabinet member for environment, waste management and neighbourhood services, said: “People may think that just because they have the windows open or the air conditioning on, then it’s ok to smoke or be with someone who is smoking, but in reality, it could have a serious effect on your long term health.

Claire McIver from NHS Stoke on Trent said: “Passive smoking in children and young people is a significant problem locally with over 50% of young people in Stoke on Trent exposed to other people’s tobacco smoke in the car, and around 1/3 in the home. It can lead to bronchitis, asthma, inner ear infections and even worsened behavioural problems and child development.

In addition children who are regularly exposed to smoking in their homes and cars are three times more likely to take up smoking themselves. The best thing you can do to protect others from the dangers of passive smoking is to make your home and car completely smoke free.”

As part of the demonstration, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue will also be flooding a car with “safe smoke” to show how it can circulate quickly in an enclosed space, and how it can affect those travelling in a car.

Firefighter Jim Taaffe from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “It is important that people are aware of the dangers of smoking whilst in the car, as not only can the smoke itself cause health problems but it is also a distraction to the driver.

“It is also important to bear in mind that other people smoking in your car could distract you just as easily and distractions whilst driving can lead to serious accidents.”

NHS Stoke on Trent is very keen to support initiatives like this. The Stoke on Trent Stop Smoking Service offers support to any smoker who wants to quit in a wide range of settings across the city. Stop smoking medicines (such as patches and gum) are available for the cost of a prescription (or free to those who don’t pay for prescriptions). For more information about free services available to you locally call 0800 085 0928.

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