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Charities back passive smoking target

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Charities have backed a new Scottish campaign that aims to reduce the number of children affected by passive smoking by 50,000

Making Scotland a smoke free nation is a now reality say health charities.

It comes as the Scottish Government launched the first national target anywhere in the world to reduce the number of young people affected by passive smoke.

It is the latest move to address the negative health affects of smoking and aims to reduce the proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke from 12% to 6% by 2020 – about 50,000 children.

Every parent wants to do the right thing to protect their kids - James Cant

Scotland is the first country in the world to set such a target.

The initiative urges parents to take their smoking "right outside" homes and cars.

Campaigners say they are not pushing to ban smoking in private spaces, such as homes and cars, but instead plan to raise awareness.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland, said: “We know from our work engaging directly with parents that they want to do all they can to protect their children from the harms of second-hand smoke at home and in the car.

“But they don’t always have enough information about how to do that most effectively, so this new campaign is an ideal initiative to give them the support and advice they need.”

Research shows 85% of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless, so many are unaware that smoking indoors – even at an open window or standing at the back door – is not enough to protect children, as harmful chemicals linger and drift around the home.

James Cant, head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: "Every parent wants to do the right thing to protect their kids.

"This campaign will give them the tools and information to do just that."

The Scottish Government said the campaign helps people understand how smoking pollutes the air and outlines simple steps to make their homes and cars smoke-free.

Public health minister Michael Matheson said every child should have the chance to grow up in a smoke-free environment.

"This campaign isn't about a person's choice to smoke, it's about people who smoke having the facts so they can smoke in a way that doesn't harm their children," he said.

“Where people do smoke, it is crucial they know the full facts about the harmful impact it has not just on them, but those around them such as their children.”

The campaign will involve public advertising as well as getting health professionals to proactively raise awareness of the effects of second-hand smoke on children.

Dr Sean Semple, of the University of Aberdeen, whose research contributed to the campaign, said: “In the past five years our research group has measured pollution levels in over 100 homes across Scotland.

“Smoking homes have very high concentrations of fine particles that tend to be much higher than the worst pollution on even the busiest roads in Scotland.

“Second-hand smoke also lingers for a long time.”

Smoking countdown

3% of 13 year olds and 13% of 15 year olds in Scotland are regular smokers

15,000 young people start smoking each year in Scotland

A 1% reduction in smoking prevalence would save around 540 lives a year

The effects of tobacco costs Scotland nearly £1.1 billion every year

Smoking costs more than the tax revenue it generates