Smoking And Your Family
Very few people in the Western world could claim to be unaware of the serious dangers of smoking. Despite this, many smokers continue to use cigarettes; justifying their choice with an excuse such as "it's my own body I'm damaging", or something along those lines. What a lot of smokers don't want to face up to, however, especially those with partners and children, is the dangerous effects of smoking on their families. The fact is that if you smoke around your kids and partner, you're damaging their health (perhaps even as much as your own) through passive smoking; and you are probably causing them emotional distress.
Your family - If you smoke around your family, whether indoors or outdoors, you are forcing them to inhale your second-hand smoke. Even if only in small amounts, your kids and partner are being exposed to the dangerous chemicals in your cigarettes. Think about how many cigarettes you've smoked over the years; then think about how long you've been with your partner; think about how old your children are - if you've been living with your partner for five years or your kid is five years old, that's five years of passive smoking - forced on them by you. If both you and your partner smoke, this obviously increases the impact on your kids. In kids, passive smoking is associated with asthma, ear and throat infections, chest infections and other more serious conditions. In adults, it has been linked to cancer and other devastating diseases. The bottom line is - if you smoke near your loved ones, you are literally poisoning them.
Your pregnant partner - If you smoking around your partner while she's pregnant, you are damaging not only her but your unborn baby. A baby who is exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb is more likely to be born prematurely and with health and development problems, which can even lead them to struggle at school. A pregnant mother who is exposed to cigarette smoke is also more likely to miscarry. Is your partner trying to give up the cigarettes now that she is expecting a child? If so, and you're continuing to smoke around her, you are making it even harder for her to succeed and protect your baby.
Bringing Up Smokers
If you smoke, your children are more likely to start smoking when they are teens. You could be passing on your addiction to the next generation of your family. Children of smoking parents are twice as likely to smoke themselves than children who are raised in a healthier, non-smoking environment. One U.S. study found that 90 percent of American adults who smoke started by the time they were 18 years old. The earlier your children start smoking, the more time they have to be exposed to the disease-inducing chemicals in cigarettes and the more likely they are to suffer and perhaps die from smoking-related illnesses. You could also be influencing your partner. Perhaps he or she smokes too and is trying to give up - you're making it harder. Many women who restart smoking after having given up for a whole nine months during pregnancy say they started again because they had a partner who smokes.
The Emotional Effects
You might be doing a good job of putting the dangers of cigarettes out of your mind but that doesn't mean your family isn't worrying about you. Children in particular receive a lot of anti-smoking education at school and you may not be aware of just how much they know. It's a fairly safe bet that your kids know smoking kills people and yet they have to watch Mom or Dad do something that dangerous every day. Can you even begin to imagine how traumatic that is for a small child? As far he or she is concerned, you know that smoking is dangerous and that it can cause you to get sick and die, which would mean that you wouldn't be around to look after them any more, and yet you are still putting cigarettes before them. If they are old enough to understand the situation, they probably feel very alone and afraid each time you light up. Aside from your kids, your partner might also be very worried about your health and the future. No one wants to manage on their own.
Break The Cycle
If you can't find the motivation to quit for your own sake, then do it for your family. The sooner you get cigarettes out of your life, the sooner you stop the damage to your health and theirs. The longer they are exposed to smoke, the more harmful it is, so it's never an excuse to say the damage is already done. Check out our section on stopping smoking for advice, information and support and get help from your doctor.