Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann
Pediatrician and Author
Children exposed to cigarette smoke are at greater risk of developing lung infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as asthma and ear infections. In children that already have asthma, cigarette smoke can trigger a life-threatening asthma attack. In addition, kids exposed to second-hand smoke have more difficulty recovering from common colds.
Smoke exposure also leads to more headaches, sore throats, hoarseness, irritated eyes, dizziness, nausea, lack of energy and fussiness. Infants exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk of dying from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Children who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are also at increased risk for serious, life-threatening diseases later on in life, such as lung cancer and heart disease.
When you smoke, your child is at increased risk of becoming a smoker. That’s because parents and child care providers are the most influential role models for children. If you are a parent who is interviewing providers to care for your child, ask them if they smoke. If they do smoke, find another child care provider.
If you, yourself, are a smoker, be a good role model for your children and consider quitting. Smoking anywhere – in the home or in the car, even with a window open – is dangerous for infants and children. They will still be exposed to dangerous second-hand smoke.
If you must smoke, or while you are trying to quit smoking, please smoke outside – away from the children. Wear a designated smoking jacket or shirt that you put on for smoking outdoors and leave it outside or in the garage before you re-join the children. This way, the smoke won’t be carried inside on your shirt and place your kids at risk.