Passive smoking ‘hinders children’s oral health’

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Bad for kids' teeth too.
Bad for kids’ teeth too.

Young children exposed to passive smoking are more at risk from tooth decay and problems with their oral health development.

According to scientific research, children exposed to second-hand smoke experienced slower development in their oral health compared to those not around smoke, the extent of which depended on how much smoke they were exposed to.

Previous research into the effects of passive smoking on children identified a significantly higher risk of developing tooth decay, the largest non-communicable disease worldwide, compared with those not around second-hand smoke.

The research takes on extra significance given the Labour plans to ban smoking in cars carrying children as part of the Children and Families Bill, a plan backed by Lords on January 29.

The Royal College of Physicians reported that almost two million children in the UK live in a household where they are exposed to cigarette smoke, with almost 8,500 hospital admissions due to second-hand smoking.

Smoking was banned in England in workplaces and most enclosed public spaces in July 2007 following similar legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Government also launched a review of tobacco packaging in England following the Australian precedent to move to standardised packaging.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, stressed the importance of introducing the plan to ban smoking in cars.

Dr Carter says: “Banning smoking in private cars is another positive step in the attempt to curb the increasing incidence rates of mouth cancer and the general improvement in oral health. Smoking is the single biggest cause of mouth cancer in the UK, while second hand smoking has also been linked to the disease. This proposal can only have a positive benefit for both drivers and passengers – especially children.

“As incidence rates are forecast to hit 60,000 in the next decade, we need to find ways to reduce the alarming growth in mouth cancer. Smoking and tobacco use is the leading cause of mouth cancer. Even though the number of people smoking is falling, around one in five people stick with the habit.

“By further limiting the amount of exposure young children have to second-hand smoke, hopefully we will see continued improvements in children’s oral health figures, as well as a reduction in the number of mouth cancer cases.”

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