How to Protect Your Newborns from Second-Hand and Third-Hand Smoke

Exposing your child to cigarette smoke, whether directly or passively increases their risk of lung diseases and early death. Most kids are exposed to second-hand and third-hand smoke when other household members are smokers. Babies and kids face an enhanced risk of developing complications from exposure to second-hand and thirdhand smoke due to their underdeveloped immune systems. 

Luckily, you can protect your kids from smoke exposure in the following ways:

Quit Smoking

Children cannot outrun smoke; if you’re a smoker, secondhand and third-hand smoke is bound to catch up with them. Smoking outside will not be of much help either. The smoke is bound to go through the cracks under the doors and windows and cause much-dreaded harm to your kids’ health. This leaves us with the ultimate solution; quit smoking!

Quitting smoking is hard, but it’s the best solution and it’s achievable if you put your mind to it.  For instance, you can try something motivating like taking a picture of your child and sticking it to your pack of cigarettes. This will remind you of your primary objective in quitting smoking, which is protecting the people who matter the most to you.

If that doesn’t work, join a smoking cessation class. The class will provide you with the requisite skills and support for quitting this abhorrent habit. You might not succeed the very first time you decide to stop smoking, but always remember that you’re the closest person to your child, and try again. 

Get Rid of the Indoor Cigarette Smoke

Have you ever been to a room with the unmistakable smell of cigarettes floating in the air even when there wasn’t visible smoke? Or maybe cleaned a yellow mess off clothes, kids’ toys, or furniture? These are among the common signs of secondhand and third-hand smoke that remains in your indoor air hours after a cigarette has been smoked.

The good news is that you can use a dehumidifier with an air filter to combat the lingering cigarette smoke in your indoor environment. 

  • First of all, remove all the cigarette butts and ashtrays from the room 
  • Position your dehumidifier in the middle of the smoke-filled room
  • Turn on the room fans and open the windows to enhance air circulation
  • You can subsequently switch off the dehumidifier when the presence of smoke is no longer evident
  • To increase the air-cleaning ability and effectiveness of your dehumidifier, ensure to replace the air filters regularly. 

Ban Smoking within Your Residential premises 

You probably decided to quit smoking for the sake of your children and succeeded. However, you might have someone in your household who is a habitual smoker and not ready to quit. Let this not deter you from your purpose of protecting your children from second and third-hand smoke. 

The first step is to ban smoking, not just in the house, but near your home’s windows and doors, or even in the hallway. Secondly, since third-hand is that which sticks to objects such as clothes, you will want to ban the smokers in your household from mingling with your kids while still wearing the same garments they wore while smoking. 

Ensuring that smokers don’t contaminate your indoor air with secondhand smoke or leave third-hand smoke on your house surfaces will go a long way in protecting your kids’ health. Having achieved your purpose, remember to thank the smokers for being considerate to the non-smokers in your home. 

Address the Guest Smokers in Your Home

Talk to the people visiting your home about your smoking rules before you invite them over; let them come prepared to abide by your instructions. An adult can well hold their breath to avoid passive smoking while walking past a lit cigarette or someone straight from smoking, but your children are left at the mercy of smokers.

If you have visiting friends or relatives who are habitual smokers and want to play with your kids or hold your baby, ask them to clean their hands and change from the clothes they were wearing while smoking. This will go a long way in protecting your young ones from third-hand smoke.

Only Visit Smoke-Free Areas 

Smokers may not light up in your children’s presence, but the smoke lingers in the rooms in which they recently smoked or on the surfaces in the area, which could cause harm to your babies. Luckily, most businesses, including restaurants and cafes have a smoking section away from the eating area, which is a good thing. However, the smoke has a way of getting around; always visit public places whose designated smoking areas are located outdoors in a far off space from where your kids sit.  

Also, it’s understandable that you love and need your friends even when they’re smokers. However, remember that your kids could be in danger of inhaling smoking secondhand smoke when you go visiting your friends’ homes. Your children could also be exposed to third-hand smoke if they mouth contaminated objects in your friend’s house or touch the affected surfaces. Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid taking your children along while visiting friends who smoke. 

Help the People Around You Quit

You might be the closest person to your kid, but you’re not the only individual with whom they have contact. It’s, therefore, important to convince the people around your child to quit smoking. This is not going to be easy, but compared to the health risk posed by second and third-hand smoke, the struggle is worthwhile.

Ideally, you can ask smokers around your baby to pen down some compelling reasons for quitting. This will assist them in contemplating their decision; they have to stop smoking for themselves and not for you. If not, they will have a sense of deprivation, which will grow with each challenge that arises along the way, and probably lead to failure.  

Have a Smoke-free Car

Smoking in the car in which you transport your kids is highly discouraged. It will probably fill the seats and other car materials with toxins, even when you smoke with the windows open. Avoid smoking in the family car at all costs, not even once.

Also, put a warning in the form of a decal or sticker for other passengers who might be thinking of smoking in the family car. More importantly, avoid leaving your baby’s car seat in the vehicle; only place it there when the baby is using it to reduce the risk of third-hand smoke exposure. 

Remember that the best way to have a smoke-free car is to never smoke. If you are a smoker, nonetheless, ensure that your smoking sessions don’t coincide with the times when you’ll be in the car. To fight the urges, you can store your cigarettes in the trunk or simply in an out-of-reach area. Similarly, you can leave your charger in the car’s adapter outlet lest you get tempted to use it as a lighter. 

The Bottom Line 

Exposure to secondhand smoke is equivalent to passive smoking. It occurs when someone inhales the smoke released by a smoker. It may also result from breathing in the smoke that drifts from the burning end of a cigarette. Third-hand smoke contact, on the other hand, refers to the exposure occurring when you touch surfaces in which cigarette smoke has settled. Such surfaces may include furniture, clothing toys, walls, and vehicle furnishings. 

Secondhand and third-hand smoke poses significant health risks, especially for babies and kids. This is because the young ones have smaller airways as compared to grownups; besides, their immune system isn’t fully developed. Cigarette smoke remains in the air and then settles on nearby surfaces. This smoke can then be inhaled or ingested by babies when they put objects in their mouths, for example, toys.

It’s vital to understand that smoking in a different room, using ventilation, a fan, or opening a window doesn’t necessarily eliminate the risk of exposure to secondhand and third-hand smoke. If you or the people around your baby cannot quit smoking, it’s imperative to keep the areas in which your kids frequent smoke-free. 

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