Smoking near babies and children exposes them to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). ETS is the smoke exhaled by a smoker (called mainstream smoke) or emitted by the tip of a burning cigarette (called sidestream smoke). Breathing in ETS is known as passive smoking. 1

ETS is a combination of poisonous gases, liquids and breathable particles that are harmful to health, particularly that of children. Even before it is born, a developing baby can be affected by ETS, especially if the mother smokes during pregnancy. This increases the risk of miscarriage, low birthweight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 1 Babies of smoking mothers are two to four times more likely to die from SIDS. 2,3 This risk increases the more you smoke. 3

In addition, children of parents who smoke are likely to have:

    • more serious respiratory illnesses, such as croup, bronchitis and pneumonia 1
    • more middle ear infections 1
    • reduced lung function 1
    • a greater risk of developing asthma 4,5
    • more asthma attacks 1
    • an increased risk of respiratory symptoms such as coughing, breathlessness, phlegm and wheezing 3
    • a higher rate of meningococcal infections 6
    • more school absences. 1
In 1998, there were 23 deaths from ETS in children aged 14 years or younger, or about one death per fortnight. 7

Giving up cigarettes is one of the best things you can do for your children's health and wellbeing. If you do smoke, make sure you do not smoke near your children or inside your home or car.

Decided to quit smoking? For help, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or call the Quitline on 131 848 or visit the Quitline web site.