Are We Still Smoking Around Our Kids?
If you are a child of the 1970s, like me, chances are you had relatives who smoked cigarettes around you. It was normal then. In my family, my dad (who later gave it up) and a few extended family members were smokers. It was normal to play in a smoke-filled room and I never thought anything of it. I was even a smoker myself for a few years. Then something happened…I grew up and started using my brain. (with what brain cells I had left)
In 2011, I think most of us know the risks of secondhand smoke – SIDS, asthma, low birth weight, hearing loss, and ear infections, but there are shockingly still parents, family members, and strangers who have no problem lighting up around children, including newborn babies and pregnant women.
Fortunately, most restaurants and public venues have prohibited smoking inside, which does help, but the habit still lingers in the front of buildings or outside event doors. You can still get a cloud of smoke in your face if the wind blows just right or you happen to walk behind a group of chain smokers.
It gets complicated when your family members are the culprit of this bad behavior. For example, when I was pregnant with my first son, I had the tough decision of asking my family members not to smoke around me. What should have been an obvious consideration ended up making me feel like a jerk, but I knew that if I didn’t bring it up nothing would be done. Very, very sad. Also, very, very difficult to convince a smoker who has raised their own children in smoking households, or was a smoker while pregnant, that secondhand smoke is dangerous. There is a wall of denial built up that is hard to scale.
You wanna ruin your body from smoking? Knock yourself out, but don’t do it around those who aren’t given a choice. It’s selfish and unfair, plain and simple. If you do it around my children, I’ll ask you to stop. My oldest son already has asthma is in a smoke-free home, and even if he didn’t, I wouldn’t want your harmful chemicals in his lungs. Sorry, but he means more to me than your habit.
What experiences have you had with relatives or friends who smoke? Has it ever become a problem? How have you dealt with it?
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52 Comments on “Are We Still Smoking Around Our Kids?”
ugh… I have a hard time getting my own husband to stop smoking in the house. He thinks it’s not so bad if he goes in the bathroom with the fan on.
@Tina, Yeah, I think there is a misconception that if you consolidate it to one room it doesn’t bother anyone. 🙂
This is actually a sore subject of mine because my mother and grandmother both chain smoke and they could care less who is nearby. My 4 year old son was found to be asthmatic at age 1 and to this day they still smoke around him. Last year when we vacationed to my mother’s home, my husband purchased a $200 air purifier for our room and my son still went home ill.
I applaud those that have stopped smoking, gosh knows from experience it is hard. I quit nearly eight years ago when we decided to have children. My husband however is still a smoker but never in the house or car. He also is great about washing up when walking in the door after having a smoke. While I stay on him to quit, all good things take time.
Some cities have begun a smoke ordnance where you cannot smoke within so many feet of public buildings and most have banned smoking inside these building, restaurants, etc. Eventually this will be country wide and to be honest I cannot wait for that day.
@Teri, Teri, thank you for sharing your story. I know your pain, really I do. Have you ever brought it up to your mom and grandmother? How do you think they would react?
Yes of course we have. That is what makes it such a difficult topic in my family because they could care less. Exact words is they smoked around all of their kids and we survived.
We did survive but I am sure not without issues. I know my 4 month old niece now lives with my mother and she calls all the time wondering why she is always congested and coughing. When I tell her the turth (bc of her smoking) she actually gets angry with me. UGH
@Teri, I can relate to this, too. I remember my brother getting awful headaches when we would visit in the summers that he would throw up. I can’t imagine that the smoke didn’t contribute to that. I suppose addiction makes people selfish, you know?
and I couldn’t agree more. My grandmother was a crazy smoker. YUCK
@KERRI, Thank you for stumbling. 🙂
I have a different shirt I wear when I go out to have cigarettes and never smoke when my kids are outside or in the car with them. I have had to ask many people to not smoke around my kids which is sad. I have one friend who smokes around her daughter and none of the rest of us let her be around our children. I am also trying very hard to quit because it is just a horrible thing for me to be doing.
@Ashley Jordan, I’m glad you brought up smoking in the car, I didn’t even cover that! That is the worst. I remember being in cars with smokers who didn’t crack windows or anything, horrible.
I totally remember smoke filled holidays at my grandpa’s house in the 80’s. He didn’t have cable or anything, man it was the pits!
I don’t remember asking people to stop smoking around my kids, but I did have a big problem with people touching my babies’ hands and giving them things I didn’t want them to have (like candy). We were in Asia at the time.
This is absolutly a sore spot for me! When my oldest son was born my only available option for a babysitter was my grandparents and they are heavy smokers. I sat them down and told them that if they continued to smoke in the house or touched him after smoking without washing their hands; their babysitting days were over. I guess I never felt bad about it because he is my child and his health is far more important to me than hurting someones feelings. Since I’ve gotten a little older and learned more about just how bad it is I will go as far as asking someone outside of a restaurant or store to move a little farther away from the door. I don’t think there is anything wrong with nicely asking someone to be polite of others.
@Courtney Marinko, I agree and it sounds like they were receptive. The problem is when family isn’t understanding, you know?
My mother-in-law chain smokes, and when the kids are with her or she’s here visiting, she knows not to smoke around them. Luckily, it’s never been an issue with her, but we have other family members that put up a stink about it. We are only around them once a year at most, so we only have to deal with their bad attitudes once in awhile. 🙂
You’re right though, it used to be the norm. So glad times are changing!
Stumbled and tweeted! GREAT POST!
I grew up around lots of relatives who smoked. I also remember going with my parents quite often to eat at a coffee shop in the small town we lived in. Almost everyone in there smoked. You would open the door, and a cloud of smoke would come drifting out. I can’t believe that we sat in there and ate, our eyes burning the whole time. Things are so different now. About a year ago they outlawed smoking in all public places in Michigan. It’s nice to be able to go out to eat, and not worry about which section you’re sitting in. Fortunately the relatives my kids are around the most don’t smoke. But I have run into people smoking at the park near my kids. My oldest son walked up to one guy there and said, “You know you’re gonna die.” I was a little embarrassed, but I’m glad he knows it’s bad for you.
I grew up in a smoking household, and now my mom is suffering from chronic pnuemonia (brought on by arthritis, and made worse by smoking). I smoked for a while too, I think thats normal when one of your parents smokes, but then came to my senses and quit and would never pick one up ever again. Luckily I did that before my first son was in my belly too!
I ask people when they come over to smoke outside. My sister, though she denies it, smokes around her kid — (come on, I can smell it and hear her light up when she is on the phone with me) – and even smoked during her pregnancy. Now her child has lung problems, and is allergic to everything…coincidence? I think not. She definitely does not smoke around me or my kid – but I do have reservations about her watching my baby overnight because of it.
I think smoking is a selfish thing in the first place. You can quit. I did after smoking for 10 years. My husband 20. Yeah, it sucks while you are going through it, but you feel SOOO much better afterwards. I love being able to take a breath without coughing stuff up, or feeling the need to stand outside in the winter, or feeling bad about myself when those non smoking commercials (or heart attack) come on.
@Megan, Yes, quitting is very hard, but it’s not impossible. Even when you take out the whole secondhand smoke issue, it’s selfish to purposely harm your body when family and friends rely on you.
This is where I have the worst time understanding it. My mother-in-law , while very understanding about smoking around the kids, continues to smoke even after being diagnosed with COPD. She’s in bad health and struggles financially, yet on a good day only smokes two packs. Errrr.
My husband smokes, and he’ll be the first one to tell you that it is terrible. He does not smoke in our home, or in our car, and in fact, Evan has never even seen him smoke. We also do not talk about smoking. I am praying that he can quit before Evan has to know.
@Crissy, Well, at least he makes an effort to separate it from your son. I respect that.
I grew up in a smoke filled household and my parents still smoke which drives me crazy since they both have had serious health issues. One of the rules when we come to visit is that they need to get the carpets and furniture cleaned and they have to smoke outside until after we leave. Logan has enough health problems, he doesn’t need to be around smoke. I am quite vocal about this topic. My cousin would drive with the windows rolled up in the winter with her baby in the car while smoking. Once I saw that I tore into her, how ridiculous! If you want your lungs to crinkle up into a black mass then be my guest but your baby is innocent. Needless to say she stopped lol.
I smoked for a couple of years but once I found out I was pregnant that was it, cold turkey. It’s such a selfish habit!
Ewwww! I haven’t had to deal with it, but I would probably leave and tell them they could see her when they were done smoking and washed up.
If some people couldn’t quit smoking, perhaps the least they could do is be considerate to non-smokers, especially to children. Their immune system aren’t that well-developed yet so being susceptible to sickness is expected. Children won’t have to suffer.
In Canada, it’s now illegal to smoke in your car if there are kids in the car. I remember when I was a kid being driven home by my friend’s mom and she was smoking with the windows rolled up. I couldn’t barely breathe and it was horrible. It felt like I was suffocating.
@Stacie, Wow, I love that law, wish the US would do the same.
Hi I need help I’m 16 and keen on sports my nan looks after me coz my mum died of breast cancer when I was 7 and I’m fed up of her smoking all over the house in every room and she thinks that because she’s in another room it’s ok but I can smell it all over the house and I’m forever with phlemb on my chest but she gets really mad when I tell her, my dad agrees but he would argue with her if I told him she hasn’t stopped and I’m scared shell leave help thanks
I’m a smoker in the process of quitting. I will be honest and say it’s not going very well. But I’m trying and that’s all I can do right now.
However, I would never smoke around my son. We are lucky enough that only a couple of people smoke in both our families and they only do it outside. I do know that I would speak up if it came to it.
Our state has banned smoking at public events, restaurants, bars and casinos not operated by Native American reservations. People were outraged becaus of the no smoking in restaurants. My theory is that if I can’t sit there for 20 minutes and wait for my food without smoking, then I have an issue. Or there is no reason why you can’t wait the other 10 minutes or whatever until it’s time to leave to light up.
My husband’s family are smokers and so is my husband. When I got pregnant, I refused to vacation at their house because of my condition. Now that I have kids, my husband has minimized smoking and never ever did smoked inside the house. We also have a certain rule that when we stay at their place for a vacation, nobody smokes inside the house and around the kids. I guess, that’s fair.:-)
My mom smokes, so I grew up smelling like smoke all.of.the.time. I don’t let her babysit partially because of this. It doesn’t matter if you smoke in a different room, the smoke will travel. It doesn’t matter what purifiers you run or spray you spray, it’s a cover up and it does not work. My son deals with Eczema… right in the family of Asthma. Regardless of health issues, I don’t want him exposed to smoke period. The whole smoking thing strikes a nerve with me because a lot of smokers get so defensive when you kindly ask them to be considerate. I don’t care how hard it is for you to quit, have some common sense and respect for those who don’t want to tar up their lungs. I’ve seen a family smoke in their home while their child took breathing treatments. Sad.
@Sheena, Sheena- my youngest has Eczema and my oldest has severely dry skin, so I feel your pain. As you said, regardless, I still wouldn’t want the chemicals inhaled by my kids. I can relate to the defensiveness smokers can get, especially in your own family. It’s sad, awkward and selfish.
My brother smokes around his boy. I have told him so many times but it doesn’t make any difference. My husband still smokes but does so outside and never in the house and never in our car. If you love your kids, you shouldn’t smoke around them. Period.
My dad has always smoked – but never once has he smoked inside! I always goes outside to smoke and even puts on a different jacket to do so. My uncle smoked in the basement for decades, though – even when he lived with 2 elderly sisters who were sick and his mom (in her 80s). Now, he goes outside.
New follower- I have to admit I’m really against it. It’s a disgusting habit that is being modeled for kids. No matter what one’s thoughts are about second hand smoke, clearly smoking kills over time. Why would anyone want to model that around their kids is beyond me. In saying that, I believe in individual freedom so a person should have the right to smoke in front of their kids. Regardless, you’d never find me doing it.
My husband has a cousin who smokes as well as her husband. They have a little girl who is 6 months younger than my daughter, almost 5, and they’ve been smoking around her since she was born. I’m not sure if the mom smoked while she was pregnant or not but they smoke in the house and car with no ventilation at all. It makes me SO sad for the little girl and I no longer go over to their house or allow my kids to go. I feel awful for her. You would think that even if they didn’t care about themselves, as parents they would care enough about their child to not smoke around her. So, so sad. How, in this day and age, could you NOT know better and consequently DO better?!
@Tamara, I ask myself this question every time I see parents smoking around their children. It especially kills me when I see it being done around babies. I mean, it seems like a no-brainer, right?
I found this blog by chance and thank God! I need to vent my two cents worth! So right now, we are staying at my in laws home. They both are smokers, my husband and I no longer are. I quit shortly after I found out I was pregnant and my husband chews now instead of smokes. Gross I know, but I will take what I can get. Now, my problem is, they have two grandchildren, my son, and then their other son and his wifes daughter. Both children have reactive airway disease. (RAD) and my son gets chronic ear infections, coughs a lot at night and both kids take Singular before bed. They both take allergy meds too and have inhalers and nebulizers. Now, when they are here, they have no issue with the in laws having to smoke outside, but now for us, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve caught them quick to put a cig out when we came into the room and its driving me nuts! I just told them too that my sons doctor thinks that he has asthma, but since he’s only 3 he’s too young to officially diagnose yet. We have told them since his birth that smoking around him is not okay! And the rule was even bent then. I am at a loss as to what else to do here other than stay somewhere else. What else can I do? Im trying so hard to keep my baby healthy…I smoked for several years and quit, will never ever start again! No way! Not after all this BS I’ve gone through! And I care too much about myself and my kid! What else can I do? My husband and I were sitting upstairs earlier tonight watching tv with my FIL and he lit one up right there! My husband is too big of a wuss to say anything to his parents, and I just left the room, and had to change my clothes, take a shower and stay downstairs where my son was sleeping. I quit smoking! I dont want to smell like an ashtray! Argh!!
I have a friend who has been away for over a year and has returned home to visit. She left to seek treatment for her then 2yr old who has an inoperable brain tumor and husband who has cancer. Her husband passed last week as she watched. I have been trying to be with her as much as possible. Might first visit she lit up a cigarette in the house with her child. I almost had a heart attack. She smokes around him all the time….even in the car. I am going to confront her and I typically say things in such a way that people end up mad, so I know its going to get ugly. Please help…
@sherry, Try to approach as delicately as possible. She will most likely be defensive, but try to express your concern. Tell her it’s because you love her and her son that you bring this up and you only want the best for them both. So strong!
I’d like to present a different view on smoking. I’ll probably get flamed for this, but my husband and I like to smoke and have no plans to quit. Our kids are smokers as well. They started in their early teens, like we did, and are adamant it was because of their friends getting them to try it. The oldest has been smoking for over 15 years. OK, we were also role models since we smoked around them, but they don’t blame us for their becoming smokers.
Background info: We both grew up in smoke-filled homes and cars. My parents and siblings all smoked. After the 8th grade I was making my contribution, and no one thought it was wrong. My Mom smoked all through her pregnancies, as did I. My husband was raised in a smoking family as well. Our parents did not make an issue out of smoking, and we didn’t with our kids. Our high school even had a smoking area. You were supposed to get a note signed by your parents (which mine did) but it wasn’t enforced. Most of the teachers smoked, and they didn’t mind us doing it. We both have been smokers for over 40 years.
My in-laws still smoke and they are in their 80’s. Our extended family consists mostly of smokers as well.
Over Thanksgiving we were at the family reunion and everyone smoked around the table. Here’s something for the health nazis. My 14-year-old niece has had asthma since she was little, and carries around an inhaler although she doesn’t need it as much. We were all very careful not to smoke around her for that reason while she was growing up. Well, she has now become a smoker, and lit up her cigarettes along with everyone else, and said that her asthma was not affected by smoking. She said it calms her down so she doesn’t have an attack.
I know there’s a war against smoking (and smokers) but just wanted to add our view point. Yes, there are many health issues but so far few have affected our family.
Are you on the payroll of the tobacco lobby or something?
No, I’m not.
I just want to say I like to smoke and plan on continuing. We are considerate of others’ wishes and the legal aspects of when and where to smoke. For instance, if we visit friends that don’t smoke they are understanding. We go outside to smoke and seldom get a problem. Yes, in public my husband and I get comments, as does everyone else who smokes nowadays. So we’re forced to keep to ourselves with fellow smokers in our designated areas.
Ironically, at Thanksgiving this subject came up, in talking about our niece becoming a smoker and how we all started.
For myself, I decided to start smoking on my own. No one forced me into it. My parents and people around me were supportive and never gave me a hard time about it, as we were when our kids picked it up. As a child I had lots of bronchitis and sore throats, probably by being around smoke-filled rooms and cars. But after I started smoking all that went away.
I’m not sorry I’m a smoker. That’s my perspective.
My biggest pet peeve is when people light up at an outdoor restaurant.
Um, just because you’re done with your meal, doesn’t mean I have to sit through the cigarette smoke during mine.
Lots of laws here in CA banning smoking like at the beach, or in the car when a child is present. I can’t wait for the day it becomes illegal entirely. There’s nothing attractive or good that comes from smoking.
I’m with you, Sondra. I’m actually allergic to cigarette smoke, if you can be allergic to something that’s already a poison. I can smell someone smoking in a car 10 vehicles ahead of me at a traffic light, and I get into such a coughing fit. When I inhale cigarette smoke, I can end up coughing so hard and uncontrollably that I cry. I don’t believe that smokers have a “right” to smoke, because I have a right to breathe clean air. I’m waiting for it to be outright illegal, too.
I am all for freedom to do what you want, as long as it’s legal. But as a child of smokers, I always resented being forced to inhale and smell like smoke when I was growing up. I was angry at my parents because I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I’m the only one in my family who didn’t become a long-term smoker (sure, I tried it), but for years it was really awkward to try to avoid gagging, and getting sore throat/lungs when visiting the family for holidays. Thankfully, many of the smokers in the family have quit. I don’t worry about their health as much, and it’s more pleasant to visit. It’s funny, though. All the smokers who have quit say they never realized how offensive the odor was until they quit! The fact is, smokers can’t smell it because they’re desensitized to it. So, they think that by asking them not to smoke, non-smokers are just “picking on them,” or discriminating, or waging war. It’s not personal – it’s just that it’s unpleasant and unhealthy. And I personally think you should not force babies and children to inhale your smoke.
I also feel so badly for the children. Besides the very obvious and very real health problems a child can suffer, there is also a social stigma that can be placed on the child of an active, indoor smoker. A good friend in high school would shower at my house and borrow my clothes. Why? Because the other kids would give her a hard time about how strongly she smelled of smoke because of her parents choice to smoke at home. I see plenty of people, including family members, who smoke around children and it bothers me that they also smell like smoke when going to school. I know it’s cold/hot outside, inconvenient to not smoke in front of the TV or whatever the excuses are, but adults need to quit being selfish and put the kids first.
As the child of two chain smokers who always smoked in the house, I had bronchitis every year of my life. Ended up having pneumonia as well. Even years later, as someone who has never smoked, I have a severely decreased lung capacity. My daughter, on the other hand, has never had bronchitis. Coincidence? Maybe.
My mom now only smokes outside, even at her own home, and states she could never go back to smoking inside because of the smell. She also personally wishes she hadn’t smoked since she was 13, because she looks 15 years older than her non-smoking sister, instead of just five.
I’m glad that some people don’t die from smoking, but that doesn’t mean many people don’t have chronic illnesses, like emphysema and COPD, from smoking. It doesn’t take away from the fact that the majority of lung cancer cases come from smoking.
To me, it is about quality of life. Plain and simple. Whether one dies or lives a short/long life isn’t the issue with me, it’s how that life was spent.
My parents always smoked around us and I hated it when I was a kid. They really regret it now, but they were just a product of their time. I do smoke on occasion, but it is always outside on the porch, usually after the kids go to bed. If a kid does come near me, I move and even hold the cigarette way over my head until I am far away. If the kids want to be on the porch, then I move all the way out to the yard. This very topic taught me an important lesson about judging people by their appearance. We were at the county fair a couple years ago and while standing in line for a ride some nicely dressed women were smoking ahead of us and their smoke was blowing in all the children’s faces. My son has asthma and he was complaining about it. Before, I could even say anything, some heavily tattoed and pierced and leathered women made a point of extinguishing their cigarettes several yards from the line and then walked up to the women smoking and asked them politely to refrain from blowing their toxic smoke all over a group of children. The smokers got mouthy and ignorant and finally left the line when they realized it was about 30 concerned parents getting pissed at them and not just the 2 ‘biker’ ladies. I thanked the ladies who intervened and they were like, ‘no problem’.
I have learned NOT to judge by appearances as well. Some of the nicer-looking people are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
There are considerate and inconsiderate smokers. We would like to count ourselves in the “considerate” group. By and large, I have found smokers the most fun and a nice sort of people to be with. Most of our friends smoke and I can’t imagine a friendlier group to be with. But there are a few (unfortunately) who spoil it for others.
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What may you suggest about your post that you simply made some days ago?
You cannot smoke around the kids because second hand Smoking increases the amount of breath problem and unhealthy substance circulating in the bloods.