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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 07:17 GMT
Passive smoking dangers outlined
Image of a cigarette
Research says passive smoking is harmful to health
A hard-hitting campaign to spell out the dangers of passive smoking is being launched in Northern Ireland.

The Health Promotion Agency campaign says that second-hand smoke increases the risk of serious illness.

Chief Executive Dr Brian Gaffney said: "Passive smoking can increase your risk of lung cancer by 20-30%, heart disease by 25-35%, and stroke by 80%."

The campaign comprises two television advertisements, as well as leaflets and a posters.

The first advertisement focuses on smoking in the home and how this can affect children.

The advertisement says parents will try to do all they can to protect their children yet many are totally unaware of the damage from second-hand smoke

The campaign says children are at risk from second-hand smoke
The campaign says children are at risk from second-hand smoke
The Health Promotion Agency says passive smoking has a major impact on children's health.

Research shows 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital each year with illnesses that are a direct result of passive smoking.

In the UK, between 1,600 and 5,400 new cases of asthma occur each year due to parental smoking.

The agency said research had also shown that passive smoking worsens existing health problems.

Dr Gaffney added: "The air in a room where people are smoking contains around 4,000 chemicals, some of which are known to cause cancer, so the facts are clear - passive smoking is deadly serious."

The second advertisement shows two young men in a public place chatting. One suddenly starts coughing nastily over the other, it looks very unpleasant and unhealthy.

'Damaging health'

The cough then transforms into cigarette smoke and the friend is surrounded by it. The advertisement questions why you would let someone breathe smoke over you when you wouldn't put up with them coughing and spluttering in your face.

Dr Gaffney said: "Recent research for government concluded there is no doubt at all that passive smoking significantly increases the risk of serious illness and states that no infant, child or adult should be exposed to it.

"This campaign will raise awareness about the dangers of passive smoking to everyone. We are encouraging smokers not to expose others to the damaging health effects of their habit and for non-smokers to be less accommodating about it.

"As with all our smoke-free information we hope it increases the number of smokers likely to make a quit attempt and to support ex-smokers who want to stay that way."

A Smokers Helpline is also available on 0800 85 85 85.

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