ASH Scotland Development Officer Connie Bennett blogs about strategies for making Scotland tobacco-free for the next generation.
Scotland’s nursery schools and early years establishments will be well versed in the principles of GIRFEC, helping to keep children safe, healthy, respected and nurtured. They might be less well acquainted with Creating a Tobacco-free Generation – the Scottish Government’s Tobacco Control Strategy.
The strategy sets out a five year plan for action and an ambitious target date of 2034 for reducing smoking prevalence to below 5%. In addition we now have a target to reduce the proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS) in the home to 6% by 2020.
We know that young children are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke because they breathe faster, their lungs are still developing and they can’t move away from smoky environments. www.rightoutside.org/ has lots of accessible information and resources on the impact of second-hand smoke on children and helpful tips to protect them from it.
By reaching out to the communities they work with, early years organisations can play a pivotal role in helping protect young children from second-hand smoke and the associated harm. Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation initiative has been developed to engage those working with children and young families. It helps them take practical steps to work towards a 2034 where today’s nursery children are celebrating their 21st birthday in a tobacco-free Scotland.
Play Away Nursery, situated just minutes from Glasgow city centre, has recently pledged their support for Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation:
“Our aim is to provide high quality care for children aged 0-5yrs within our setting. We provide a safe and stimulating environment which encourages each child to grow, learn and achieve their full potential. Play Away Nursery has signed-up to the Charter to help provide a healthy environment for young children and ensure that our facilities and grounds are smoke-free. We also work closely with parents and as part of our Charter pledge we’ll be providing information to staff and parents about the risks of second-hand smoke and making their homes smoke-free. We already have a clear policy on smoking and support our staff to seek help to stop smoking. Next year we’ll be supporting No Smoking Day to raise awareness of our commitment to the Charter and continue on our journey to a smoke free generation” Nursery Manager, Irene Wallace.
Family support services and nurseries have a crucial part to play in keeping children safe and healthy. By getting behind the Charter they can be the catalyst for change in their communities. The Charter is set up in a way that is flexible to the needs of individual organisations and builds on existing activities. Small practical steps are just as important as bold actions; here are just a few suggestions for what nurseries, family support services, toddler groups and early years centres can do to support the Charter:
- support staff to stop smoking by signposting to local stop-smoking services
- making grounds smoke-free by ensuring that carers do no smoke around collecting areas and asking staff not to smoke during their working day or do so out of sight of children
- be advocates for smoke-free homes and promote the benefits to parents and carers
- promote the ‘Take it Right Outside’ campaign and encourage discussion on the impact of second-hand smoke on children
- provide opportunities for staff to attend training on SHS (ASH Scotland can offer free training on Parents, Carers and Second-hand Smoke).
Signing-up to the Charter is straightforward and provides recognition of your organisation’s commitment to a tobacco-free generation. Sign-up online or contact Connie Bennett and she will do the rest: cbennett@ashscotland org.uk or 0131 225 4725.
Visit www.ashscotland.org.uk/charter for more information on how your organisation can best live up to the spirit of Scotland’s Tobacco-free Generation Charter.