Tottering round in mum’s far too big heels, sneaking into the make-up drawer to paint your face, rummaging around in the tool box to play ‘fix it’, chattering into any inanimate object to take that important ‘call’, pestering to ‘drive’ the car and wanting to ‘help’ with the dishes. Children copy the behaviour of those around to them, mostly harmless and part of their natural development, but there are some adult behaviours which we shouldn’t expose our children to and don’t want them mimicking.
If you are in in your thirties now, or older, and wondering whether being exposed to adults smoking around you ever did any harm. We now, unfortunately, know that it did.
The environment which children grow up in strongly influences whether or not they are likely to smoke when they are older. Encouraging smoke-free spaces where children play – at home, at the school gate or in a playground – not only protects their immediate health but helps to future-proof them against health risks and addiction when they grow up.
So when we are out in the park and see a no smoking sign at the playpark, or at the school gate, perhaps take a second to think before you decide “that’s a bit over the top.” Children’s rights have come a long way in recent years and we need to do what we can to protect our children from the things that are known to cause harm now and later in life.
Children can’t move away if someone is smoking near where they play. So it’s up to the adults around them to make sure children’s spaces are safe, clean and healthy. Talk to the families you work with about the benefits of making their homes smoke free and ensure your own services offer clean air spaces for little ones to play, protecting their health now and in the future.
By embracing the ethos of smoke-free play the children who are in nursery school now can help the next generation grow-up smoke-free.
Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation: www.ashscotland.org.uk/charter
Scotland’s Play Charter http://www.playscotland.org/who-we-are/scotlands-play-charter/