FNHA: Second-hand smoke risks message to pregnant women and their partners

Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Jake Campbell

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Jake Campbell

A message from Dr. Shannon McDonald, FNHA Acting Chief Medical Officer:

You may have heard this week that a well-known provincial ferry service in BC announced a smoking ban on all vessels and at all terminals. Concerns about second-hand smoke from customers means that smoking (including e-cigarettes and marijuana) is banned across all their properties. This announcement reflects our society's decreasing tolerance for second-hand smoke and the movement towards smoke-free spaces.

It should be no surprise that this announcement comes on National Non-Smoking Week, a public health event started by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control in 1974. National Non-Smoking week raises awareness about the health risks of smoking commercial tobacco—which include potential harm to others, from second-hand smoke—and provides information about the smoking cessation resources and support services available for those who wish to reduce or quit.

As an Indigenous physician, and someone who regularly uses a ferry service, I welcome this move. I'm well aware of the consequences of smoking—in fact, I lost both of my parents, long-time heavy smokers, to cancer. I know smoking impacts us throughout our lives—from before birth, right through to the end of life. So I want to take this opportunity to remind Indigenous people in BC that there are heavy consequences to smoking and that there are many resources and support aids, as well as much information, available to help you or your loved ones quit smoking commercial / non-traditional tobacco.

A word about health risks and expectant parents

Quitting smoking is extremely beneficial for your health. Today I'd like to send a message to pregnant women and their partners—who especially need to keep in mind the dangers of smoking for babies, including a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Expectant moms may want to encourage their partners and other household members to quit smoking, or to at least smoke outside so that babies are not exposed. Second-hand smoke is a major risk factor to more significant respiratory infections for babies in their first year of life, and this includes smoke from clothes and furniture. For important information on how smoke and smoking, including second-hand smoke, harms babies, as well as children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems, click here

Help is available: resources and support services

I urge you to learn more about how you and your families can quit the non-traditional use of tobacco by visiting our website via the links below. The good news if you are or were a smoker is that the benefits of quitting commercial tobacco begin immediately!

• In just 12 hours, rbon monoxide is cleared from your blood, and your lungs start to clear out mucous.

• In two weeks to three months, your circulation improves and your lungs start performing better, and in one to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

• Within five years, your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half and your risk of cervical cancer drops to that of a non-smoker.

Plus, you'll smell better, look better, feel better and save more money.

So please check out our quitting resources / aids, including the patch, nicotine gum or prescription medicines. The FNHA has excellent benefits coverage for quitting products!

You can do it! It generally takes at least a few serious attempts at quitting before a person becomes a lifetime non-smoker, and for many people it takes twice that many tries. So if you’re not successful the first time you try, don't give up. Learn from the experience and get back on track right away!

If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to call our FNHA Benefits office at 1-800-317-7878. We want to help you quit smoking, so that you and your lungs can be as healthy as possible.
Yours in Wellness,
Dr. Shannon McDonald
FNHA Acting Chief Medical Officer