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Facts for Life

Coughs, colds and more serious illnesses

Supporting Information


Children and pregnant women exposed to smoke from tobacco or cooking fires are particularly at risk of pneumonia or other breathing illnesses.

Why it is important - All key messages - Resources

Children are more likely to get pneumonia and other breathing illnesses if they live in an environment with smoke.

Exposure to smoke can harm a child, even before birth. Pregnant women should not smoke or be exposed to smoke. Babies especially should be kept out of smoky kitchens and away from cooking fires.

Tobacco use generally begins during adolescence. Adolescents are more likely to start smoking if (1) the adults around them smoke, (2) tobacco advertising and promotion are common, and (3) tobacco products are cheap and easily accessible. Adolescents should be encouraged to avoid smoking and caution their friends about its dangers.

Second-hand smoke is particularly harmful to young children. It stays in the air for hours after cigarettes, pipes or cigars have been put out. Non-smokers who inhale this smoke are more vulnerable to respiratory infections, asthma and cancer.

Parents and other caregivers need to be aware of the detrimental effects of second-hand smoke and take responsibility to refrain from smoking around children. Governments and communities can work together to inform the public of the harmful effects of smoky environments and second-hand smoke on children.

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