Global Initiative To Protect Children From Secondhand Smoke

    Effort Focuses on Dangers of Parental Smoking in Homes and Cars

    GENEVA, Jan. 29 /CNW/ -- It's a staggering statistic: 700 million
children - almost half of the world's youth - breathe air polluted by tobacco
smoke. People who smoke in confined spaces like the home or the car subject
others to a dangerous mix of toxins including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and
cyanide, even when the windows are open. Second-hand smoke exposes children to
chronic health risks:

    -- Increases a baby's risk of dying suddenly from unexplained causes
    -- Contributes to low birth weight in newborns and harms lung development
    -- Causes bronchitis and pneumonia in young adults
    -- Increases the risk of ear infections, asthma, coughing and wheezing
       among school-aged children
    These health threats underscore the need for parents to protect the
children from secondhand smoke. In the first global initiative of its kind,
the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and members around the world
will lead an initiative to promote smoke-free environments for children.  "I
love my smoke-free childhood" launches on World Cancer Day, 4 February, with
these messages for parents:

    -- Avoid smoking at home or in a car
    -- Caution children to stay away from secondhand smoke and places that
       allow smoking
    -- Teach children there is no safe level of secondhand smoke
    -- Do not smoke while pregnant or near someone who is pregnant
    -- Use a smoke-free daycare center
    -- If you are a smoker, ask your doctor what you can do to stop
    -- Become a role model for your child - do not smoke
    To back these messages, UICC is publishing a 40-page expert report,
"Protecting our children against secondhand smoke".
    "I love my smoke-free childhood" is the first focus within the World
Cancer Campaign, a five-year cancer-prevention effort launched on World Cancer
Day 2007. The Campaign offers parents simple steps to share with children to
prevent cancer later in life. (
    "Forty percent of cancers are preventable through healthy habits.  The
first step toward prevention is education, starting with parents and children.
Every success story means fewer lives lost," says Isabel Mortara, UICC
executive director. "Tobacco-related cancers lead the list of preventable
deaths and hundreds of thousands of people who have never smoked die each year
from diseases caused by secondhand smoke.  That's why this initiative is so
    In addition to targeting individuals, the UICC encourages decision makers
to put cancer on the public agenda. A growing number of countries have passed
100% smoke-free legislation, banning smoking in all enclosed public places
without exception.  Ireland was the first country to do so in 2004 followed by
the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Uruguay, Bermuda, Bhutan and Iran. Puerto
Rico and several U.S. states and cities have also enacted such bans.
    "Countries with 100% smoke-free laws should be commended for their legacy
to healthier families. In these nations the percentage of children exposed to
secondhand smoke has decreased over time," says Dr. Franco Cavalli, UICC
president.  "While this trend is encouraging, this approach alone will not
protect children from secondhand smoke. That's why educating parents is so
    On World Cancer Day, the UICC will launch a global competition to design
a sign for a smoke free environment.  The goal is to recognize a universally
"smoke free" sign for homes and cars. Individuals and creative agencies may
apply. The winning artwork will be announced on 5 May and awarded $5,000 US.
For further details contact

SOURCES FOR REPORTERS: The International Union Against Cancer: Founded in 1933, the UICC is the world's only truly global consortium of cancer-fighting organizations with 300 members in 90 countries spanning Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. ( Protecting our children against secondhand smoke: This expert report, sets out the health consequences to children of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and makes detailed recommendations on protecting children in homes, cars, daycare, schools and other public places. Authors include Dr. Jonathan Samet, senior scientific editor of the 2004 and 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's reports on smoking and health. Copies available on request ( The World Cancer Congress 2008: World Cancer Congress offers access to the world's leaders in cancer control. The next Congress will convene in Geneva, 27-31 August. The meeting offers new research on new topics as well as ongoing evidence-based solutions to cancer control. ( GLOBALink: The UICC's tobacco control network offers resources for reporters and provides an RSS feed with tobacco news from around the world. (

For further information:

For further information: Europe, The Middle East, and Africa, J.J.
Divino,  Geneva, +011-41-22-809-1878, +011-41-79-811-7049 (mobile),,  or The Americas and Asia-Pacific, Debra Anna Daugherty,
Washington, D.C.,  +011-202-558-3583, or Mexico City, +011-525-585-252806,,  both of International Union Against Cancer Web Site:             

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