Not just about you: quit smoking for your kids

3 min read

You know quitting smoking is a great decision. You’ll cut your chances of cancer and other serious diseases. But if you’re a parent, the health of your partner and children is also at stake.

If you’re a parent who smokes, you’re putting your family’s health at risk. Consider these shocking statistics from the Cancer Institute NSW and what your smoking – and your second-hand smoke – means for your family.

  • Your partner is 20 to 30 per cent more likely to develop lung cancer, and more likely to suffer heart disease
  • A higher risk to infants of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Your baby is more likely to born with low birthweight, which could exacerbate any health problems at birth
  • Increased likelihood of premature birth
  • Your children are more likely to contract lung and airways infections
  • School-age children are more likely to have asthma, and symptoms such as coughing, phlegm and breathlessness.

Then there are the impacts on your own health including lack of energy and shortness of breath – and they’re some of the less serious ones.

“Smoking can definitely impact on fitness, meaning you might not be able to play with the children as much as you want,” says Katarzyna Bochynska, program manager for tobacco control at the Cancer Institute NSW.

“Quitting smoking is the best decision any parent can make for their health, and the health of their family,” Bochynska adds. “When we talk to smokers they tell us one of the key motivators to quit is for family reasons.”

Quitting can cut the risk of diseases and may offer you immediate and long-term health benefits. But, if quitting was that easy, no one would smoke. It’s extremely difficult to put down the cigarettes for good but Bochynska offers this advice.

“On average it takes eight attempts to quit,” she says. “But it’s important to learn from each attempt, and to understand what your triggers are and which strategies work.”

The key to quitting, she adds, is support from family and friends, but also other services, including your GP who can suggest options including nicotine replacement therapies or quitting medications.

Bochynska says Quitline, which can be reached by calling 13 78 48, has also proven to be a successful service for people wishing to quit smoking.

When you call the service, you will speak with a trained professional who talks to you about your situation and history. They will then help prepare you for your move to quit.

There is also a service where the adviser calls periodically to check on your progress. Bochynska says enrolling in the call back service doubles your chance of successfully quitting.

Being a parent is stressful. There are financial and relationship pressures, and the day-to-day grind of school pick-ups, sick kids, sports, and play dates. The demands are endless. For many parents, smoking can be a pleasant respite from that stress.

“We do know people say that smoking relieves stress,” Bochynska says, but she adds it is misnomer because the sensation of stress relief is actually relief from the addictive symptoms of nicotine.

As a busy parent, in your quest to quit, it’s important to understand how stress can trigger cigarette cravings, and you need to replace that with other outlets such as stress balls, exercise or talking to your partner, family or friends.

Yes, the journey to quit is tough, but you can do it for your kids.

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This information is current as at 16/12/2016.

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