Passive smoke causes high blood pressure in preschoolers

Wednesday 12 January, 2011

A new study has found children exposed to second-hand smoke have elevated blood pressure, putting them at risk of ongoing cardiovascular problems and heart disease later in life.

Quit Acting Executive Director Quit, Luke Atkin, said it was a timely reminder for smokers to provide smoke-free environments for their children at home and in cars.

"It's just over a year since we've seen smoking in cars with children banned in Victoria and the evidence just keeps growing on why we need this policy."

"We know that second hand smoke is associated with a higher incidence of many health problems in children, including asthma attacks, meningococcal disease, pneumonia and SIDS. This study adds to evidence that second-hand smoke is leading to cardiovascular problems in children that stay with them into adulthood."

"This study confirms parents and all smokers need to think twice before lighting up around children," Mr Atkin said.

The new study, in Circulation, examined 4,236 preschool -aged children in Germany and found the children of smokers had higher blood pressure. This was still true even when the results of the five and six year olds were adjusted to take in other risk factors such as obesity.

Children of smokers were 21% more likely to have blood pressure readings in the upper 15% of their age group, when compared with children of non-smokers.

Cancer Council Victoria research suggests four out of ten smokers still smoke around children.

Heart Foundation (Victoria) CEO Kathy Bell said the legislation in place since January 2010, banning people from smoking in cars with children, was an excellent start. But smokers needed to take responsibility for protecting children in other places.

"Having a smoke-free home is an excellent step, while the study's authors conclude implementing additional smoke-free areas in public places would help. Frankston City Council has taken great steps in this regard introducing a smoke-free outdoor mall, and we'd love to see other councils taking similar steps in alfresco dining areas, parks and sporting fields."

"Smokers need to be aware that their actions are impacting on their children not only now, but well into the future. The best thing you can do for your children and yourself is quit."