According to Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, 34 percent of single mothers in Australia do smoke. Compared to partnered women who are under 65 years old, only 13 percent of them make up the smokers. This goes to say that smoking single mothers are smoking 2.5 times greater than the partnered mothers which build up the theory that there is indeed the stressful role of single parenting that triggers excessive smoking.
On the overall, 16 percent of adult Australian women do smoke. Furthermore, Associate Professor Roger Wilkins who is the deputy director of HILDA Survey assumed that single mothers have high rate of smokers probably because they are generally less educated, young, residing in outlaying areas and have less income to which these can be the factors that associate the larger number of smokers in their group.
In America, meanwhile, 26 percent of American parents do smoke so this huge percentage is already a threatening fact to children. And every year, 5,000 infants die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) because their mothers smoke a lot while pregnant.
Bad Smoke, Bad Result
We all know that smoking is bad for anyone. Tobacco contains damaging effects on the body like tar, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, free radicals and radioactive compounds. All these can destroy our immune system and organs particularly our lungs. Tobacco literally contains carcinogenic properties and the person regardless of age and gender can be affected when regularly inhaling tobacco smoke especially children who have weaker immune system than the adults.
Unfortunately, since a high percentage of single mothers smoke, it is unavoidable that their kids can also be the first recipients of second hand smoke. The saddest part is, the children’s immune system and body elements are not as strong as the adults so in turn children do get the severe effects. They are helpless and practically more susceptible to any exposures coming from air pollutants.
Based from the National Research Council and the Surgeon General studies, the most affected with the toxic second hand smoke are the infants and young children. They can be at greater risk of contracting pneumonia and bronchitis. This is supported by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) which estimates that around 300,000 young children every year get problems in their lower respiratory tracts due to second hand smoke coming from the cigarettes of their parents themselves. So what are the other debilitating ailments that kids can get from tobacco smoke? The most common are respiratory tract infections, impairment of lung development, asthma and childhood cancer.
As parents therefore, especially if you are a single mother who usually feel tensed and seek the refuge of nicotine, you must be aware that what you do massively affects your children’s health. You must then do something to prevent your kids from getting harmed. We have some suggestions for that.
Advices to Parents to Prevent Kids from Inhaling Harmful Tobacco Smoke
- Have a policy at home that smoking is not allowed. Including you, stop yourself from smoking inside your home including your baby sitter or whoever is living with you. If you can’t really help it, take your smoking outside your home that no one inhales your fumes.
- If you can’t stop an adult from smoking inside your home, at least increase your ventilation. Opening the windows or better if you have an exhaust fan will minimize the spread of smoke of the passive smoker inside your home. You must also take your child away from the smoker.
- When inside the car and want to smoke, open the windows. This is to minimize smoke exposure to other passengers. Especially if there are kids inside the car, if possible, stop the car for the moment in a parking lot and do your smoking outside.
- Even outdoor, don’t smoke if there are children nearby. Specifically the toddlers and infants and pregnant mothers, they all must be far from you if you smoke. With few minutes of inhaling smoke, children tend to cough and if a child has asthma, things can get worse for him or her.
- Building establishments that are visited by children should put “No Smoking” signs. Even an establishment is large, smoke from cigarettes can be invisible when mixed with air and this can be inhaled by children as the parents do not know this happens. So if you see someone smoke in a “no smoking” area, call the guard’s attention.
- Inform other parents about the danger of tobacco smoke to children. If you are working in any office environment, you may discuss this topic to your colleagues. Or better if you can ask your kid’s school administrators if they can include the subject during PTA meeting. You can also work with community leaders or associations to help spread the message.
- Advise a smoker whenever he or she smokes in public. Children can be easy victims of bad smokes coming from smokers who smoke in public places. But even adults especially pregnant women can also vulnerable to the toxic fumes. That’s why when you see someone smoking right in the middle of a public place remind the person but tell it nicely.
Smoking can significantly affect anyone but with the statistics, the number shows that children are more affected when it comes to second hand smoke effects. If you are a single mother and getting concerned not only about your children’s safety but for all children, do something to save them from the grave danger of smoking. However if you are smoking yourself, start considering the precautions mentioned here. Never wait till it’s too late. As a single mom and no one sees you always smoking but your child, you may not see the quick effects of smoke on your kid but when you do it may be too late already. There is also a study that proves single mothers who smoke also tend to have daughters who become smokers themselves and that same goes with the single fathers with their sons.