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The U.S. Surgeon General's Tips to Prevent Tobacco Exposure in Children

  1. Stop smoking! More than one-half of all adult smokers have quit smoking. You can, too. Get help if you need it. Smoking is a medical problem that may require help from a health professional. Nurses, doctors, dentists, and other health professionals are good sources of help to quit smoking. There are also many free or low-cost programs that can help you quit. Parents are a child's first and most influential role models. We must set the example for our children by not smoking or using other tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco. For help to quit smoking, contact the National Network of Quitlines that offers free information and help to quit smoking. When you call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, you will be connected to a trained Tobacco Cessation Specialist. Please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit today.

  2. For your baby's sake, don't smoke. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to a low birth weight baby (a leading cause of infant death) and can reduce your baby's lung function. Even second-hand smoke can have a harmful effect on your baby's breathing and can have long-term respiratory consequences like impaired lung growth, chronic coughing, and wheezing. Diseases of the respiratory system (aggravated by second-hand smoke) are one of the leading causes of infant hospitalization and infant doctor visits.

  3. Don't allow smoking in your home. Between 50 and 67 percent of children under age 5 live in homes with at least one adult smoker. Children's exposure to second-hand smoke in the home can and should be reduced to zero. Also, smoke lingers in the air and in fabrics, so children can still be exposed to second-hand smoke even if no one is smoking while they are present. Read more about Smoking & Tobacco Use - Basic Information

  4. Don't smoke while holding a child or when near a child. The closer a cigarette is to your child, the higher the concentration and quantity of disease-causing smoke he or she breathes in. Cigarettes can also cause burns and fires. All cigarettes should be kept away from children.

  5. Do not allow smoking in your motor vehicle. The high concentration of smoke in a small, closed compartment like a car can significantly increase the health risks associated with second-hand smoke.

  6. Be certain that your child's schools and child care facilities are smoke free. In most states it is against the law for anyone to smoke on or near school grounds or child care facilities. It is up to parents and other caring adults to make sure that any violations are reported to the authorities. Where there's secondhand smoke, there's fire.

  7. Insist on being in the non-smoking section in restaurants and other public places. Good health begins at home, but it does not end there. Do not settle for being seated in the smoking section, and if an establishment does not have a non-smoking section, consider taking your business elsewhere.

  8. Talk with your child about the dangers of tobacco. For example, when watching a movie, talk with your child about what the character who is smoking is doing to his or her health. Kids need constant reinforcement of positive health messages. Remember that young people are constantly pressured by advertisements and pop culture - and maybe by even their friends - to become smokers.

  9. Do not allow caregivers to smoke around your child. This includes babysitters, grandparents, neighbors, and anyone else who watches over your children. It may be difficult to tell your family and friends what not to do around your children, but your children's health comes first.

  10. Take an active interest in your child's social life. Ask if your child's friends smoke. Be aware of who your child hangs out with and if they smoke. Encourage your child to tell his or her friends why smoking is bad and why they don't want to be exposed to it. If your child has friends who use tobacco products, teach your child to encourage his or her friends to seek help from his or her parents and from a health care professional - such as a school nurse - to quit smoking. Also, encourage your child to participate in fun activities like sports, music, and community volunteering that help encourage a healthy lifestyle.

For more information about how to quit smoking call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit

For more information on "The Year of the Healthy Child" visit

See more information about tobacco prevention coalition.

If you are concerned about tobacco influences in your community including drifting smoke in outdoor areas, Multi-unit housing and workplaces or tobacco sales to minors, call 888-877-4202 or email