‘Take 7 Steps Out’ to protect children from secondhand smoke

Leeds City Council has launched an innovative new campaign this week to encourage people who smoke to ‘Take 7 Steps Out’ of their home to protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

7 Steps Out
Norma Sawyer and Megan Edwards with StepaRoo

StepaRoo, the campaign’s kangaroo mascot, was in the city this week to take children across seven musical steps highlighting the need to be at least seven steps away from homes when smoking. Parents are also encouraged not to smoke in confined spaces such as a car, when children are present.

StepaRoo was joined by the Take 7 Steps Out team who have been speaking to parents across Leeds about the dangers of secondhand smoke, which is responsible for over 300,000 GP consultations and approximately 9,500 hospital admissions each year in the UK.

Dr Ian Cameron, Leeds City Council’s Director of Public Health, said:

“This new campaign is encouraging smokers in Leeds to protect children from secondhand smoke by Taking 7 Steps Out of homes and buildings to smoke.

“There are over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, 60 of which cause cancer. Opening windows or standing at the door doesn’t stop the toxic poisons contained in smoke filling a room and children breathing it in. This campaign will remind people smoking at home is harmful to children and they can take action to prevent this now even if they are not ready to quit.

“I hope everyone who hears about the Take 7 Steps Out campaign will spread the word in their communities to encourage those who smoke to make this small change which I know will make a big difference to children’s health across Leeds.”

Norma Sawyer, aged 52, visited the T7SO stand with granddaughter Megan Edwards, aged 6. Norma said:

“I started smoking at 11 and smoked for many years inside my home because that’s what other family members did so it felt normal. But then I decided to go outside to smoke because I wanted to protect my daughter and granddaughter from my smoke, which they were really pleased about.

“In 2014 I quit smoking and now use an e-cigarette, which I smoke outside my home because I still want to keep my family protected.”

Bernadette Coleman, aged 41, was with baby daughter, Charlotte aged 5 months and teenage daughter, Louise 19. She said:

“I used to smoke in the house but always in another room away from my kids thinking that was safe. But when the kids were a bit older and started walking they’d follow me around and see me smoke so I’d go outside to have a cigarette, but sometimes I’d creep back in when it was cold or raining. When my son was younger he developed asthma and sometimes I wonder if my smoking contributed, but I didn’t know just how dangerous secondhand smoke is. I’ve quit smoking now and hopefully I won’t start again.”

The campaign, developed by social enterprise Tobacco Free Futures, focuses on protecting children as they are more vulnerable due to their faster rate of breathing, less developed airways, lungs and immune systems. Secondhand smoke exposure has serious health consequences, including an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, meningitis, bronchitis and cot death.

This activity is the beginning of a wider campaign across Leeds to speak to parents and guardians about the dangers of secondhand smoke and how to protect children and young people. If you would like to find out more information please visit www.take7stepsout.co.uk.