The Greatest Gift - A Smoke-Free Home

  • If your child has asthma, the greatest gift you can give him or her is a smoke-free home environment. And no, I'm not just one of those anti-smoker crusaders who wants to take away poor beseiged smokers' rights!


    The fact is, secondhand smoke is one of the most harmful asthma triggers around. I speak from experience, as well as medical knowledge. I grew up with 4 heavy smokers.


    The lungs of a child who has asthma have a hard time to begin with in exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide during the breathing process. But when the child is exposed to tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide also enters the lungs and competes with oxygen in getting to the cells where oxygen is needed.

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    In addition, secondhand smoke is an irritant to already inflamed, swollen, and twitchy lungs. Deliberately exposing your child to smoke could almost be considered akin to child abuse, though it is seldom treated that way. But you might ask why is it child abuse to burn a child's hand as punishment, yet no one really blinks when parents fill their children's airways with poisonous tobacco smoke?


    Quitting smoking is a positive action you can take today to help your child become healthier. Of course, I realize that's easier said than done. I've observed the struggles of several family members in trying to quit smoking. Some of them have succeeded; others have not. But there is help available.


    You can probably find a local quit program at a hospital or through your local chapter of the American Lung Association. But, if you want to look for help online, try one of these resources:

    Oh, and by the way, quitting smoking is one of the best gifts you can give yourself as well. It's the gift of health and longer life, and even if you don't have asthma and allergies yourself, stopping smoking will still help your heart and lungs.


    Here are a few tips that may help you get started on a quit smoking program:

    1. List the reasons for quitting—who and how will it benefit?
    2. Pick a quit date.
    3. Tell others about your plan & ask for their support.
    4. Acknowledge the challenges you'll face & plan for how you'll deal with them.
    5. Remove all tobacco from your home.
    6. Talk with your doctor and ask about medication options to help you deal with the addiction.

    You may slip up and start to smoke again, either during your quit program or at a later date. This is not unusual and it doesn't mean you have failed and should give up. If you slip, just get back on track as soon as you can and re-commit to quitting. Sticking with it is the best strategy.


    When your child is no longer breathing in secondhand smoke routinely, you'll notice a big improvement in asthma symptoms, how often he or she needs to use quick-relief asthma medicine and the response to preventive asthma medications. Be the best parent you can be... quit smoking today!

Published On: April 21, 2007