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Growing up without tobacco: parents urged to make the home smoke-free.

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Media release


The Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge

Minister for Health and Family Services


MW 116/98

31 May 1998


Embargoed until 6am, Sunday 31 May 1998





Parents should consider the dam age that tobacco smoke causes to young children and avoid smoking in their homes, Federal Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge said today.


Dr Wooldridge was speaking from London on his way back from Geneva, the headquarters of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has declared Sunday, 31 May, World No Tobacco Day.


The WHO theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day is, Growing Up Without Tobacco .


Dr Wooldridge said that while most Australians understood the damage caused to others, especially children, from passive smoking - children were regularly put at risk of serious illnesses because their parents smoked at home and in the family car.


More 540,000 Australian children live in a household with one or more adults who smoke.


A recent information paper released by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) found that passive smoking;


* is associated with an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS);

* contributes to the symptoms of asthma in 46,500 children each year;

* causes lower respiratory illness in more than 16,000 Australian children each year;

* means a child has a 60 per cent increased chance of developing lower respiratory illnesses such as croup, bronchitis, bronchiolitis and pneumonia during the first 18 months of life; and

* increases the risk of otis media (glue ear) in children.


“If the damage that smoking does to their own health isn’t reason enough to quit, then parents should at least think about the damage it’s doing to their kid s,” Dr Wooldridge said.


“Every year tens of thousands of children end up in hospital after an asthma attack which is triggered by the smoke from their mum or dad’s cigarettes.”


Dr Wooldridge said the smoke from just one cigarette contained over 4000 chemicals, including 40 known cancer causing agents.


“Some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke are better known around the home as floor cleaner, paint stripper, ant poison, moth balls, lighter fluid, insecticide and car exhaust fumes,” Dr Wooldridge said.


“Th e small delicate lungs of young children make them extremely vulnerable to the harmful effects of passive smoking.


Dr Wooldridge said help was available for people wanting to take the difficult initial step to give up smoking.


“Quitline services are available Australia wide and nicotine patches can now be purchased for about the same price as a packet of cigarettes.” he said.


Dr Wooldridge said it was important that family members were supportive when people were trying to quit, as nicotine was a powerful addictive drug.


“There are benefits for the entire family when a smoker quits because a smoke free household means a healthier family.” he said.


Dr Wooldridge said Australia was one of the world leaders in the campaign against smoking.


“For the first time state and territory governments and major non-government organisations have come together in The National Tobacco Campaign with its hard hitting Every Cigarette Is Doing You Damage advertisements,” Dr Wooldridge said.


“We now have a large number of smoke free venues including restaurants, shopping centres, and sports facilities,"


“Public opinion is turning in favour of more smoke free public places with polls showing 80 per cent of people, including smokers, prefer smoke free venues.” he said.


Dr Wooldridge also took the opportunity to congratulate Dr Harley Stanton from Sydney, who has been awarded a World Health Organisation Commemorative Medal for his work in the tobacco and health field.


“Dr Stanton is a tireless worker in the field of tobacco control in Australia and more importantly in the Western Pacific Region and developing countries which have been targeted as areas of expansion for the tobacco industry,” he said.


Media contact, Bill Royce, Dr Wooldridge’s office. (02) 6277 7220 or (0412) 137 669




Designated state and territory spokespersons:



Victoria/Tasmania Warwick Smith MP, Minister for Family Services

Contact: John Wilson 0412 437 317


Western Australia Judi Moylan MP, Minister for the Status of Women

Contact: Dennis Go dfrey 0417 272 088


South Australia/

Northern Territory Trish Worth MP, Parliamentary Secretary,

to the Minister for Health and Family Services

Contact: Jenny Denholm, 0411 261 336


New South Wales Senator Marise Payne

Contact: 0417227311


Queensland Andr ea West MP Member for Bowman,

Contact: 0419659383