Passive smoking devastating for kids: Study

London: Smoking has always been hazardous to health but now it has emerged that passive smoking has a devastating effect on kids, claimed a study.

Funded by Cancer Research UK and carried out by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, partly based at Nottingham University, the research found that children whose parents both smoked were almost nine times as likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke as those in non-smoking families reports

"Many parents believe that smoking in only one room or when the children have gone to bed will somehow protect the children from exposure. It doesn`t," said Prof John Britton, who has contributed to the study.

The research also showed that more than 20,000 chest infections, 120,000 bouts of middle ear disease and 200 cases of meningitis in youngsters are also thought to be linked to the effects of second-hand smoke both inside and outside the home.

The study called for increases in the price of tobacco, measures to tackle tobacco smuggling and illegal trading, and investment in media campaigns targeted at young people.

Cigarettes should also be taken off display in shops while packaging should be made generic and standardised, doctors said.

Other suggested measures include cutting down exposure to images of people smoking in the media, with films and television programmes, which show gratuitous smoking classified as adult viewing, and stiff penalties for those who sell cigarettes to under-age youngsters.

"All parents want the best for their children, yet many are making their kids breathe a toxic fog of tobacco fumes which only damages their health," said Betty McBride, director of policy and communications at the British Heart Foundation.