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New brief descriptions of the devastating harm from tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke during pregnancy and childhood

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New WHO report, Tobacco control to improve the health and development of the child,, calls for awareness-raising among practitioners and policy makers about the importance of strong tobacco control measures for children’s health and development, including a ban on tobacco advertising, the use of a non-smoking environment in smoking and an increase in tobacco taxes.

Exposure to tobacco smoke has a devastating effect during childhood and adolescence, beginning with conception.

Exposure of unborn children to maternal smoking or passive smoking has been associated with birth defects, stillbirths, premature births, and infant death. Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with a doubling of the risk of sudden infant death and birth defects, while exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy is associated with a 23% increased risk of stillbirth and a 13% increased risk of congenital malformations.

Used smoke kills about 1.2 million people each year, and 65,000 of these premature and preventative deaths are made up of children and adolescents under the age of 15. Children with caregivers who smoke are almost 70% more likely to try smoking by age 15.

“Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke affects a child’s survival, health and development before and after birth,” said Dr. Bernadette Daelmans, Head of Child Health and Development at the World Health Organization’s Department of Maternal, Infant, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging. “There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. This seriously harms the child’s health and can lead the child to use tobacco later, which will increase the risk of serious health damage throughout life, ”she said.

Tobacco use and exposure to passive smoke during pregnancy hurts the baby

Exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy is particularly relevant for many low- and middle-income countries, where few women smoke but many men do. In addition, the use of smokeless tobacco during pregnancy also increases the risk of stillbirth, premature birth, or the birth of a low birth weight baby.

Children living with smokers are at higher risk of lung disease and early death

Children living with smokers are at higher risk of bronchiolitis, pneumonia and other respiratory infections. They are also more likely to acquire and be hospitalized for asthma and develop middle ear disease. Moreover, there is an increased risk of death before the fifth birthday.

The report points out that children who were exposed to tobacco smoke early in life are also more likely to have behavioral problems and do less well in school.

It is further stated that children who experiment with smoking earlier are more likely to become smokers in adulthood, thus exposing themselves to an increased risk of premature death and disease later in life.

AND the ‘smokeless generation’ is at hand

Tobacco is a matter of children’s rights, and tobacco control is one of the most cost-effective interventions for a child’s health, the authors note.

62 countries around the world have adopted comprehensive anti-smoking policies, improving their children’s chances for a healthier future. “Creating 100% comprehensive anti-smoking policies will result in greater benefits, especially when those policies are implemented appropriately, without exception,” said Dr. Vinayak M Prasad, Head of Unit, Tobacco Free (TFI) in the WHO Department of Health Promotion. And. “This, together with the accelerated implementation of other key measures to reduce tobacco use under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is key to achieving the SDG 3A goal,” he said.

Societies are now increasingly demanding smoke-free outdoor spaces, such as school playgrounds, playgrounds, outdoor dining areas, parks and beaches, as well as private enclosed spaces, such as common areas in buildings and condominiums and cars, to protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke. including pregnant women and children.

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