Department of Health Promotes Smoke-Free Zones Around Kids

Statewide campaign aims to keep cigarette smoke far, far away from children

For Immediate Release: August 12, 2004

Contact: Moira Cook
Tobacco Control Chief
Vermont Department of Health

Mark Ray/Sarah Serling
Kelliher Samets Volk

BURLINGTON — Parents and caregivers in Vermont are being reminded to keep children far, far away from secondhand cigarette smoke thanks to the Vermont Department of Health’s smoke-free zone campaign.

During August and September, the Health Department is sending smoke-free zone decals, message boards, bibs and information about the serious risks of exposing children to secondhand smoke to child care centers and registered child care providers across the state. The Health Department is asking child care providers to post the information on site and send it home with caregivers and parents.

“The good news is that many Vermonters have gotten the message that homes – especially those with children – should be smoke-free, and we applaud their efforts,” said Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD. “But there is still work to be done. We all need to take care to keep cigarette smoke far away from children no matter where they are – whether in the home, in the car, or outside.”

The developing lungs and bodies of young children can be severely affected by secondhand smoke. Health risks such as asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections can be reduced by maintaining a smoke-free zone around all children, all the time.

“We know that parents are vigilant about taking safety precautions with their kids – from bike helmets to training wheels to car and booster seats,” said Katie Gonyaw, director of Ascension Childcare Center in South Burlington. “But we still need to remind everyone that smoking around kids, even when they’re outside, can cause significant health problems. We’re happy to be working with the Health Department to spread this message.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke is associated with an estimated 8,000–26,000 new asthma cases in children each year. In addition, secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for an annual estimated 150,000–300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in children aged less than 18 months.

The Vermont Department of Health’s smoke-free zone campaign has statewide reach thanks to cooperation with Vermont’s anti-tobacco community coalitions – who are helping raise awareness for smoke-free zones in their own communities. The smoke-free zone campaign is also supported by the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VAEYC). If you or someone you know is getting ready to quit, call the Vermont Quit Line toll-free at 1-877-YES-QUIT (or 1-877-937-7848).