Tobacco-Free Environments to Protect Youth
Secondhand and thirdhand smoke and vapor is especially harmful to babies and children, who cannot control the environments where they are exposed. Kansas communities can take action to protect this vulnerable population from the damaging effects of secondhand and thirdhand smoke and vapor exposure. Children who grow up in smoke-free environments:
- Are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Have lower risk of having bronchitis and pneumonia, and have fewer ear infections
- Have fewer issues with wheezing and coughing
- Are less likely to ever have asthma
- Are less likely to become smokers as teenagers
- Tobacco-Free Parks, Recreation Settings & Events
- Tobacco-Free Childcare Settings
- Smoke-Free & Tobacco-Free Multi-Unit Housing
Many Kansas communities have already implemented tobacco-free parks ordinances and policies. Municipalities, school districts, youth sports organizations and other groups are invited to join the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) Grant Program in eliminating children’s exposure to secondhand smoke and vapor at public parks, recreation settings and events. Policy initiatives are key strategies in influencing community norms and are effective ways to limit exposure to secondhand smoke. This initiative protects the environment and protects the health of all.
The Young Lungs at Play! Toolkit includes resources, templates and information on implementing effective policies and procedures to promote tobacco-free parks and recreational areas. It can assist communities in ensuring that all forms of tobacco use are prohibited where children play.
Providing tobacco-free environments is one of the most important things caregivers can do for children’s health. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Childcare facilities and caregivers are in a position to provide information to families about the benefits of tobacco-free environments and refer parents to the Kansas Tobacco Quitline if they are interested in quitting smoking or vaping. They can also ensure their campuses are entirely tobacco-free and communicate their policy or pledge to families and their community.
KDHE and the CDRR Grant Program partnered with Kansas Child Care Opportunities (KCCTO) to offer childcare providers a virtual clock-hour training on the importance of tobacco-free environments and how to talk to parents about tobacco use, secondhand and thirdhand smoke/vapor and its harms. The KCCTO course is currently available.
The guide is designed to help caregivers understand existing Kansas tobacco policy requirements for home daycares and other early childhood care centers, provide suggestions for creating 100% tobacco-free environments for children and inform about available cessation resources.
All residents are exposed to the damaging effects of secondhand and thirdhand smoke and vapor when a multi-unit housing unit does not prohibit smoking and vaping in the units and building. The home is the main place where children are exposed to secondhand smoke.
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required all Public Housing Agencies to become smoke-free (not including e-cigarette use). Many commercial multi-unit owners are also choosing to implement smoke and tobacco free policies to protect their property from fires and excessive cleaning costs, and to attract residents.
Owners and managers can plan, implement and communicate effective policies and refer tenants to cessation resources like the Kansas Tobacco Quitline. Tenants and prospective tenants can let building managers know that there are many benefits to tobacco free policies, including better health.