Did you know that smoke both from a lit cigarette and the smoke you exhale are possibly harming your kids?

While it’s difficult to get accurate numbers or even know for sure if passive smoking kills, as is generally claimed (because of conflicting evidence), it certainly will increase the risk of your kids getting asthma, even if they’ve never shown symptoms before.

Now I don’t know about you but I’d never experienced asthma till I was an adult and it wasn’t much fun! In fact, when it started I didn’t even know it was asthma. All I knew was I just couldn’t get enough air. I wanted to yawn and couldn’t. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t breathe and didn’t have a clue what to do. It was really scary! Thankfully it only happened a couple of times and my partner recognised it straight away and I was able to get fast relief.

But what if it happened to your child? What if they suddenly couldn’t breathe? Imagine they’re suddenly coughing, clutching at their throat or chest and in obvious distress – would you know what to do? And how would you feel, knowing that there’s a fair chance your second hand smoke could have been the culprit?

Imagine the agony, guilt and turmoil you’ll experience while you wait for an ambulance to arrive, not really knowing how long it will take and seeing them becoming more and more distressed, wondering if they’ll make it.

And I wonder how you would feel knowing that while asthma can be managed with medications, those medications are just masking the symptoms and the invisible insidious damage like hardening and brittleness that happens in the airways? That these medications often include steroid drugs which suppress the immune system and set them up for infections?

And even if they don’t develop asthma, kids exposed to cigarette smoke have a much higher risk of chronic cough, sinus, ear and chest infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia. Of course these are all treatable with antibiotics but do you really want to have to put your child through the misery and suffering of being ill, and the delayed disastrous effects of the antibiotics on their immune system?

You see, it takes the first two years of a child’s life for their immune system to fully develop and it really depends on having good levels of “good” bacteria in their gut. Antibiotics knock out those good bacteria which are so important for developing and maintaining a healthy immune system which is their natural protection against infection and cancer.

Studies from the UK showed that young kids given multiple courses of antibiotics for ear, nose and throat infections went on to develop asthma in their teens.

Unfortunately these drugs don’t come without a price and are really best avoided in the first place.

But the damage from passive smoke doesn’t end there.

There’s also the nerve and brain damage. Kids’ brains continue to develop well into their late teens and while they’re still in that developmental stage their brains are more vulnerable to damage. They also have a faster metabolism so they’re processing the chemicals much more quickly.

Toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke kill brain and nerve cell and could cause problems with learning, reading and maths.

And even if second hand smoke doesn’t harm your kids, you surely want to be there for them and to experience the joy of seeing them grow up?

In my years of helping people quit smoking one of the top 3 reasons they’ve given for finally stopping is because they want to be there to enjoy seeing their kids or grand kids grow up. It suddenly hits them one day that they just might not be around for that – and then there’s the awful thought of leaving their kids without a parent.

The real story below is typical of the type of things people tell me every day.

“I have tried to give up smoking many times but always revert back to my old ways. That was until 3 days ago when my 7 year old daughter gave me the push I needed to stop me smoking. We were sitting in the car when she wrapped her arms around me and said “if you die Mum I will die too because I love you so much”. Those words really hit me hard and made me realise what a fool I have been. It is inevitable that I will die one day but I don’t want to miss out on seeing my children grow up by my own stupidity. So it really has come down to a choice for me between my family and cigarettes”.

So do you choose to smoke over your family?

If you won’t quit for yourself, will you do it for your kids?