Smokers are most likely to kick the habit due to the effect it has on children, according to the results of a new survey.
Almost a third (30%) of those surveyed by the British Dental Health Foundation said they would stop smoking due to the effects it has on children. More than one in four (26%) said the danger of developing mouth cancer would be the reason they quit, while less than one in five (19%) said the risk of lung cancer.
Children are often exposed to second-hand smoke in the home and particularly cars. Public health minister Anne Soubry has already called for smoking to be banned in cars carrying children on ‘child welfare’ grounds.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke and exposure increases the risk of cot death, glue ear, asthma and other respiratory diseases.
A review by the British Medical Association’s Board of Science concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke for children and adverse effects can be found at low levels of exposure.
Tobacco use is a major killer worldwide, and Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, hopes the one in three smokers in the UK that want to quit do so sooner rather than later.
Dr Carter said: ‘The research is clear-cut – smoking in any environment is harmful to you and those around you. Around one in six adults in the UK still smoke, and if they are doing so around their children it could have a catastrophic effect on their future health.
‘Children see their parents as role models. If they are smoking, children are more likely to take up the habit. By stubbing out cigarettes now, not only will you stop damaging your body, you will stop damaging those around you.
‘Tobacco use is still the leading cause of mouth cancer, a disease that claims more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined. Through campaigns such as Mouth Cancer Action Month in November and No Smoking Day today (Wednesday 13 March), it is vital people take the warnings about smoking on board and swap their fags for swag.’
The poll also revealed around one in ten (11%) would stop smoking due to graphic advertising, although preventable oral health problems such as stained teeth and gum disease (7%) had less of an effect.
Dr Carter added: ‘Smoking causes people to have more dental plaque and for gum disease to progress more rapidly than in non-smokers. Gum disease still remains the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. The best way to ensure you keep your mouth as healthy as possible is to quit smoking.’