A Tobacco-Free Future – An all-island report on tobacco, inequalities and childhood 2013 reveals declines in smoking rates among both children and pregnant women over the past decade, both North and South of the border. This report published by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) and the TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI), shows that while tobacco control measures are being successful, disadvantaged children are at particular risk of tobacco-related harms.
Children growing up in disadvantaged circumstances face a number of threats to their health and development. Protecting children from the burden of tobacco related harm from both active and passive smoking is a priority action in enhancing population health and reducing health inequalities. Population health strategies on the island of Ireland are increasingly focussing on addressing the root causes of health inequality through social determinants of health approaches and through focussing on early childhood as a key period for intervention. At the same time, governments in both jurisdictions are working to enhance their approaches to effective tobacco control.
The World Health Organization considers that there are three key ‘windows of exposure’ in terms of tobacco-related harm in childhood – in the womb (associated with active or passive smoking by the mother), directly through children taking up smoking and through exposure to second hand smoke (SHS) in indoor and outdoor environments.
This report presents findings on these three windows of exposure based on a range of data sources in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The central aim of the report is to contribute to knowledge on the exposure of children to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke at various stages of their development. The findings of the report can support policy makers and service providers in their efforts to make tobacco-free childhoods a reality on the island of Ireland.