NO SMOKING DAY 2021: The dangers of smoking inside your home
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Today is No Smoking Day (March 10) and tobacco control leaders are taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of keeping smoking out of the home.
The dangers of exposure to second hand smoke - commonly known as passive smoking - are numerous. Passive smoking, in the short term, can cause headaches, coughs, nausea and a significant decline in lung function for those with Asthma.
Passive smoking, in the long term, can increase the risk of developing a variety of smoking related diseases. Exposure to second hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease in non-smokers by up to 35 per cent.
Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for adult social care and public health, Cllr Ian Morris, said: “Cigarette smoke contains poisonous chemicals that are harmful to health, and smoking indoors means that you are exposing your loved ones to harm.
"As we are all indoors more often at the moment, it’s more important than ever to highlight the importance of keeping smoking out of the home. I urge all smokers to keep their home smoke free, and to strongly consider quitting entirely."
Smoking indoors additionally increases the risk of house fires. Cigarettes cause a third of all accidental house fires and fires started by cigarettes kill more people than any other type of fire. Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service are called out to dozens of smoking related house fires annually and an estimated £3.4 million is lost every year as a result.
Chief Fire Officer at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue, Darren Dovey, said: “People might think that we rarely get called out to deal with fires that were started from smoking but, between the start of 2018 and the end of 2020, we attended 125 smoking related incidents in Northamptonshire.
"Tragically, there have also been three deaths over the last four years due to smoking related incidents. This is three more than there should have been, but it does highlight what can happen if safe practices are not followed.”
Although quitting the habit of smoking entirely is the best way to reduce the risk of smoking related fires, those who are not ready to do this are encouraged to reduce the risk of fire by following national fire safety guidance.
Prevention Team Leader for the Home Fire Safety Team at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue, Tina Collett, said: “If smokers do not feel ready to quit yet, we would urge them to smoke outside if possible and ensure that their cigarettes are put right out and fully extinguished.
"We would also urge people to never smoke in bed; to use a proper ashtray and never a wastepaper basket; and not to leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around. They can easily fall over and start a fire.”
A lesser-known cause of smoking related house fires are cigarettes that have been manufactured illegally. Trading Standards, who are also taking part in this year's campaign, have said that illegally manufactured cigarettes are even more of a fire risk than genuine cigarettes, which are already the biggest cause of fire-related deaths in the UK.
County council cabinet member for Highways, Transport and Environment and with responsibility for Trading Standards, Cllr Jason Smithers, said: “Some counterfeit cigarettes may fail to comply with the Reduced Ignition Propensity test. Genuine cigarette papers are treated to ensure that if they are left burning they self-extinguish; many counterfeit cigarettes are not treated in this way and are therefore more likely to cause house fires if left unattended.”
Smokers who want to kick the habit this 'No Smoking Day' are up to three times more likely to succeed with the help of their local stop smoking service. The Northamptonshire Stop Smoking Service can provide up to 12 weeks of support to help smokers quit for good and can be contacted on 0300 126 5700.