Many people don't accept that exposure to secondhand smoke causes illnesses in children according to new research from The Cancer Council Victoria.
Released today, the data from 2006 reveals only 30% of people believe exposure to secondhand smoke is a cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The data also shows:
· Less than 1 in 5 people believe exposure to secondhand smoke causes middle-ear infections in children.
· Only one-third of people believe that secondhand smoke causes pneumonia in children.
· Just over two-thirds of people believe secondhand smoke is a cause of asthma
Professor Susan Sawyer, a respiratory specialist at the Royal Children's Hospital and Director of the Centre for Adolescent Health, said the data was of particular concern given children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke.
"Children who live in smoking households have higher rates of many different clinical diseases including asthma, pneumonia, meningococcal disease and sudden infant death syndrome.
"New laws now protect adults from secondhand smoke exposure. Children are more vulnerable than adults: helping parents stop smoking is a priority."
Acting Director of Quit, Ms Suzie Stillman said the seriousness of exposure to secondhand smoke as a health issue should not be underestimated.
"Secondhand smoke affects the health of both non-smokers and smokers. There are at least 250 chemicals in secondhand smoke that are known to be toxic, including more than 50 that are known to cause cancer."
"Given the damaging health consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke, it is of paramount importance to make sure people are getting the message to make homes and cars smokefree as soon as possible."
It is estimated that 23 Australian children under the age of fifteen died from illnesses related to secondhand smoke in 1998.
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