“Dr. Linda, I know that smoking is not good for my baby but my husband refuses to stop smoking. How can I reduce smoke exposure for my baby?”
Honestly, you can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do. I do believe, however, that you can help lead your husband to the solution you want, with patience and compassion. It is so important for both you and your developing baby to reduce your smoke exposure. If you are smoking during pregnancy, or your partner smokes, you must do everything you can to eliminate these toxins from your life - and your baby’s life! Here are a few pointers to reduce smoke exposure for healthy babies and children:
- Read reliable sources about the harmful effects of smoking, and share them with your husband. Most people don’t realize the extent of harm they are doing to their partners and children by smoking. When he (or you) reduces smoke exposure by quitting smoking he is removing at least 400 toxins from your environment, each of which have negative effects on everybody’s health. health.
- Men like to feel powerful and in control. They want to make their own decisions and don’t like to be ‘told’ what to do by anyone, including you. If your husband smokes and you want him to quit to reduce your smoke exposure you need to be a cheerleader and an encourager (not a nagger). As a supportive partner who is aware of the harmful effects of smoking and of the difficulty of overcoming the addiction to smoking, you can be just that. Here are a few things you need to know about the obstacles dads ( and moms) come up against when they want to quit smoking:
- He has probably tried to quit smoking in the past and failed so he knows how hard it is.
- He does not want you to see him fail if he decides to try and doesn’t succeed.
- A lot of the people he spends time with probably smoke and will not support him when he decides to reduce smoke exposure for your baby and family.
- He has a lot of habits and rituals around smoking which will take effort to change.
- He knows on some level how harmful smoking is but is trying to to deny it.
- He feels feels guilty that he can’t easily reduce smoke exposure for you and the baby. quits smoking A lot of them have tried to quit smoking in the past and already know how difficult it is.They probably also really want to reduce smoke exposure for your baby.
- Learn about the science and art of stopping smoking. This will give you the information and skills you need to quit, or, to be the strong support your partner needs as he quits smoking to reduce smoke exposure for all of you. This will be the subject of the next blog in this series.
- Remind your husband how important he is to you and your family. People who smoke have less energy, feel less healthy and get more respiratory infections. If your husband is a smoker he will not have the energy to spend quality time with you and your baby and statistically will not live as long( see below).
- In the Middle East, an argument that I hear a lot from smokers is that:” Life is in God’s hands”( al a’mar beyed illah). We each live the number of days that we are given. The question I always respond with is: “How are you choosing to live the days that you have been given?” Do you want to be healthy and full of energy so you have a long healthy relationship with those you love? Or are you choosing to risk your health and the health of your family by smoking?
Here is the Science
- Worldwide, tobacco-smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths. More than 400 toxic chemicals in tobacco affect the smoker, as well as all those around them. Recently, the Hookah (Argeeleh) has been found to be even more harmful than cigarettes.
- Smoking harms almost every organ of the body.
- Smoking contributes directly to the death of around 7 million adults worldwide every year, of these, 6 million are smokers, and around 900,000 are people who are exposed to second hand smoke, including infants.
- Men who smoke die about 12 years earlier than nonsmokers.
- Women who smoke die 11 years earlier than non smokers.
- According to the CDC second hand smoke exposure is a factor in the death of 400 infants every year in the United States alone.
- In addition to causing death, smoking contributes to long term illnesses.
Millions of people around the world are living with chronic diseases caused by smoking.
Chronic Diseases Caused by Smoking Include:
- Cancer : Smoking can causes cancer in almost every system of the body. 2-5% of people younger than 40 years old who smoke get lung cancer from smoking.
- Heart disease: 30% of heart disease under age 65 is due to smoking.
- Lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
- Type 2 Diabetes.
- Strokes. Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke.
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Smoking increases the risk of developing tuberculosis.
- Smoking increases the risk of sexual dysfunction in men such as impotence, and decreased fertility.
In children, second-hand smoke is linked to the horrors of sudden-infant-death syndrome (SIDS), and to many respiratory ailments.
Second Hand Smoke in Children Causes:
- Increased risk of Sudden infant Death Syndrome.
- Problems in the respiratory tract:
- Colds and infections in the upper respiratory tract.
- Ear infections.
- Coughs, wheezing and more severe asthma.
- Slowed lung growth.
Also, did you know that the vast majority of teenagers who smoke have at least one parent or adult role model who smokes? And that 93% of women, and 74% of men who smoke, have a parent or close relative who smokes - showing, without a doubt, how important your influence is as a parent. Hopefully, this will give your husband (or you) an added incentive to stop smoking to reduce smoke exposure to all of you.
Dads want to be a great role models for their children.
By quitting smoking your husband will set a great example for your children. He will show them how to set a goal and follow through with it no matter how difficult it may be. By watching him (or you), they will learn about self control, perseverance and patience.
I remember watching my dad quit smoking when I was about 9 years old. It was very hard for him but he did it. As a family, my mom, sister and I did everything we could to support him because we saw how he difficult it was, and, because we knew he was doing it because he loved us. We would ask people not to smoke in the house or in the car so he didn’t have to, plus we knew it was harder for people to say no to us than to him! My sister and I learned so much about self control and overcoming temptations as we watched him. I have taken these skills into other areas of my life where they have helped me press on when all I wanted to do was give up!
Reduce Smoke Exposure
If you or your husband do not want to stop smoking, the only real way to protect your family from the unhealthy effects of second hand smoke is to make your home and your car smoke free areas, and, to avoid places where there are smokers.
Even when you are not actively smoking the toxin particles from the tobacco smoke are on your clothes and the furniture and in the carpets and can harm your baby.
Reduce smoke exposure to your baby in every way possible:
- Remember, second hand smoke is just as harmful, if not more so, than first hand smoking.
- Don’t smoke anywhere in your house especially in areas where you and your baby spend a lot of time like the bedrooms.
- Don’t allow people to smoke in your home! Don’t worry about being a ‘good hostess’ - your baby’s health is at stake! Don’t put ash-trays out for guests, maybe they’ll get the message on their own.
- Have an area outside your home, on a porch or a veranda, where people can go to smoke. Make sure the smoke can’t come into the house through an open window or a door.
- If you or dad are smoking, get a special jacket that you wear over your clothing while you are smoking so it can catch the solid toxin particles that settle from the tobacco vapor. Take it off after you are done and before picking up your baby. You don’t want baby inhaling all those solid toxin particles into his lungs from your clothes.
- Do not smoke in the car, the solid toxins will collect on the car seat your baby sits in.
- Never smoke in the car when your baby is in it with you. This concentrates the toxins your baby is inhaling into his lungs.
- Do not ride in the car with someone who is smoking, especially if you are pregnant or your baby is in the car with you.
- Avoid places like restaurants and cafe’s where smoking is allowed, especially when they are closed in.
- If your friends or relatives smoke and you are pregnant or have your baby with you, politely ask them to smoke outside or away from you, or simply get up and leave the room until they are done.
Since smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths worldwide, and smoking is a choice that can be changed, we have a great opportunity to make our world a healthier place for our children (and ourselves). What choice are you going to make?
As always, I would love to hear your stories about quitting smoking, what worked for you? What didn’t work? Please post them or any questions you may have in the comments box below.
As always, to your holistic health,