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Enough is Enough, We Need to Stop Exposing Our Kids to Secondhand Smoke

Photograph by Twenty20

If you're finding it hard to quit smoking around your kids, this may be just the motivation you need. A new study put out by the American Heart Association (AHA) says that kids exposed to secondhand smoke may be more prone to cardiovascular issues decades down the road. This means secondhand smoke can affect them years after they've left the smoky confines of their parents' homes and cars, and it can affect them even if they don't start the habit themselves.

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Although efforts to reduce smoking in the U.S. have shown an overall decrease in rates, the AHA reports that there are still quite a few kids who are exposed to it on a regular basis. In fact, they say 4 out of 10 school-aged children and 1 of 3 adolescents experience it. And sidestream smoke—which comes from the end of a lit cigarette—is known to contain a higher concentration of some toxins than what the actual smoker inhales directly. Yes, really.

So, this begs the question: Why are people still smoking around their kids?

Typically, I don't sit around and judge other parents, but I'll be honest, I've always been a little judgy about parents and other adults who smoke around kids. Parents definitely shouldn't do it, and neither should any other person who's around children.

But kids don't have a choice. They can't choose to live elsewhere, to relocate to a non-smoking home, or be driven around in a smoke-free vehicle.

The CDC says there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. None. Zero. So as it stands, I agree with the AHA's stance that there should be a zero-tolerance approach for smoking around kids.

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I know that smoking is an addiction. I know it's incredibly hard to call it quits on a habit someone has had for years. I also know that smokers feel they have the right to smoke because it's their bodies they're potentially causing harm to. But kids don't have a choice. They can't choose to live elsewhere, to relocate to a non-smoking home, or be driven around in a smoke-free vehicle.

In light of these findings, my hope is that parents will finally find the strength to put the pack down, or at least smoke outside while they try to quit. Even if someone can't do it for their own health, hopefully they'll do it for their children's health.

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