Wednesday the 10 March is No Smoking Day, and to mark the event local Tobacco Control leaders are highlighting the importance of keeping smoking out of the home.
The dangers of exposure to second hand smoke, commonly known as passive smoking, are numerous. In the short term passive smoking can cause headaches, coughs, nausea, and a significant decline in lung function for those with Asthma. In the long term, it can increase the risk of developing a variety of smoking related diseases. In fact, exposure to second hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease in non-smokers by up to 35%
Cllr Ian Morris, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for adult social care and public health, 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. Our stop smoking service can help you with this, please contact them on 0300 126 5700".
There are other harms associated with smoking inside the home, one of which is the increased 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. Every year Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue are called out to dozens of smoking related house fires, and an estimated £3.4m is lost locally as a result.
Darren Dovey, Chief Fire Officer at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue, 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 stopping smoking entirely is the best way to reduce your risk of smoking related fires, those who are not ready to stop are encouraged to reduce the risk of fire by following national fire safety guidance.
Tina Collett, Prevention Team Leader for the Home Fire Safety Team at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue, 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 risk 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 ones, which are already the biggest cause of fire deaths in the UK.
Cllr Jason Smithers, county council cabinet member for Highways, Transport and Environment and with responsibility for Trading Standards, 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."
If you would like to kick the habit this No Smoking Day, you are up to three times more likely to succeed if you get help from your local stop smoking service. The Northamptonshire Stop Smoking Service can provide up to 12 weeks of support to help you quit for good, contact them on 0300 126 5700.