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Recommended reading Being smoke-free Stages: Birth to 2 months Stages: 3 to 6 months

Being smoke-free is good for the whole family

Cigarette smoke is very harmful for everyone, especially babies. Babies who live with smokers get sick more often than those who don’t. Staying smoke-free both during pregnancy and after birth is not only good for mum and baby, it’s good for the whole whānau.

The risks of breathing second-hand smoke

Second-hand smoke is a mix of smoke from a lit cigarette and the smoke blown into the air by the person smoking. Second-hand smoke has more than 200 poisons, some of which can cause cancer.

Babies and small children are often unable to move away from second-hand smoke. They also have small bodies and delicate lungs, so the poisons found in second-hand smoke are more harmful to them.

Breathing in second-hand smoke can make babies sick with chest infections, glue ear and asthma. Second-hand smoke also increases the risk of babies dying suddenly in their sleepOpens in new window, known as ‘sudden unexpected death in infancy’ (SUDI). Families might know other names for SUDI, such as ‘SIDS’ or ‘cot-death’.

Opening a window at home or winding down the car window will not get rid of all the second-hand smoke poisons. The poisons will also stay around long after the smoke and smell have disappeared.

Finding ways to help smokers to give up, or work out ways to make their homes and cars smoke-free, has benefits for the whole whānau.

Making the whānau home and car smoke-free

Seasoned smokers may not want to talk about giving up smoking themselves, but might accept some ideas for keeping their baby away from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

Making homes and the family car smoke-free is a great start. Smokers can smoke outside instead, and wear a ‘smoking shirt’ (or jacket) that they take off before coming inside or holding baby.

More than 350 New Zealanders die each year due to second-hand smoke. Learn more about second-hand smoke with the Auahi Kore/SmokefreeOpens in new window Health Promotion Agency website.

Support for quitting smoking

Many people who give up smoking find it’s a lot easier than they ever thought it would be.

Helping whānau with tips for quitting and links to where they can get extra support might just be the difference between success and failure. 

There are phone, web (blog), written  resources and face-to-face services available to help quit smoking. To find out more:

Tips for Whānau supporters

For more information, please visit the Whanau Supporters page.