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How can I address inequalities and help create smoke-free homes?

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Key messages for parents, grandparents and other care-givers

For any health professional who is working with parents, grandparents and other care-givers, it’s important to motivate to improve safety through the opportunity to promote the following key messages:

  • The best thing that parents and carers can do is to quit smoking and make their homes smoke-free.
  • Details of stop smoking services in Scotland and advice and support to stop are available from Smokeline 0800 848484 or from www.canstopsmoking.com (external link).
  • Most of the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke are invisible and can linger in rooms and vehicles for many hours.
  • Smoke-free households are now in the majority. A YouGov poll in 2011 found that 56 per cent of Scottish adults surveyed said ‘people cannot smoke anywhere in my home'.

For smokers who are not ready to quit, the following steps should be promoted to help them reduce the risks to children and others in the home:

  • Do not smoke indoors, leaning out of a window, in doorways or in your car (even with the window open).
  • Do not allow others to smoke in the home or the car.
  • If there is a need to smoke, go outside and move away from the door.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (e.g. an inhalator, nicotine patches, lozenges, sublingual tablet, mouth or nasal spray, or gum) can help people smoke less.
  • To set a good example to children, smokers should not smoke in front of them or, where possible, allow others to do so.
  • More tips and advice on creating a smoke-free home are available at REFRESH (external link).

Please also see below for further resources.

Midwives, health visitors and social workers

Midwives, health visitors and social workers are ideally placed to develop trusting, respectful communicative relationships with parents. Research has shown that parents value this relationship. Midwives, Health Visitors and Social Workers are also ideally placed to to assess and, where necessary, help improve the nature of the family's home environment.

  • Ask about tobacco use (in line with national smoking cessation guidelines (external link) and for midwives, also in line with the Maternity Care Quality Improvement Collaboration) and smoking in the home.
  • Advise of the dangers of smoking and of exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) both before and after birth.
  • Advise of the benefits of quitting smoking and protection from SHS to the smoker and to children and other household members.
  • Offering a referral to a specialist smoking cessation service where appropriate.
  • If you are aware that smoking is taking place in the home, follow the advice outlined in the REFRESH 'How to' Guide for Professionals Working with Families and Children (external link) and make use of Health Scotland's smoke-free home campaign materials (external link).
  • Use the 'Teach-Back Technique' to help ensure important information has been adequately understood: Teach-Back Technique Postcard (Download PDF - 360kb).

Service managers and commissioners

Service managers and commissioners can encourage all staff who have contact with parents and carers to:

  • ask about tobacco use and smoking in the home
  • offer advice on smoking cessation and protection from second-hand smoke
  • offer a referral to a specialist smoking cessation service where appropriate, in line with national smoking cessation guidelines (external link)
  • ensure they have the time to do undertake the above actions
  • provide all such staff with access to appropriate training
  • ensure all such staff have access to Health Scotland's smoking cessation resources (external link), the REFRESH 'How to' Guide for Professionals Working with Families and Children (external link) and smoke-free home campaign materials (external link)
  • provide continuing professional development opportunities for staff to encourage and assist them to provide more personalised information and support in ways that parents understand and appreciate
  • ensure public health campaigns and information on services are accessible to those with a range of communication support needs and relevant to a range of parenting circumstances, including to young and lone parents and to fathers.

GPs and practice nurses

Professionals working in general practice are the most preferred and trusted source of health information for parents.

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Voluntary sector workers and managers

Voluntary sector agencies can:

  • ask parents about tobacco use and smoking in the home
  • advise of the dangers of smoking and of exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) both before and after birth
  • emphasise the benefits of quitting smoking and protection from SHS to the smoker and to children and other household members
  • follow the advice outlined in the REFRESH 'How to' Guide for Professionals Working with Families and Children (external link) and display the smoke-free home campaign posters (external link) in public areas
  • ensure that staff who have contact with parents are able (and have the time) to clearly explain any advice or information given in ways the parents can understand
  • encourage use of the 'Teach-Back Technique' to help ensure important information has been adequately understood: Teach-Back Technique Postcard (Download PDF - 360kb).

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