Stop smoking the kids

is the project coordinator for Smoke-Free Living for African Americans.

I have memories as far back as being 6 years old and going to the neighborhood grocery store to purchase Viceroy cigarettes on an almost daily basis for my mother. I also remember suffering from horribly painful earaches.

My mother had no idea that her smoking contributed to my health problems. Second-hand smoke causes sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and other serious health problems in children. Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of the cigarette, cigar or pipe and the smoke that is exhaled by smokers. It hangs in the air and rests in clothing, furniture and other objects for more than three hours! This is why it’s so important that adults never smoke around youth or where they sleep and play.

Ten years ago, California began banning smoking in the workplace, bars and restaurants. Beginning in January, the smoke-free car law took effect to help to ensure that children and youth traveling in cars are not exposed to secondhand smoke.

For the past three years, Smoke Free Living for African Americans has sponsored free Quit Smoking classes in Sacramento. This project, with the California Black Health Network, continues to educate African-Americans on the tragic results of smoking tobacco and the negative health effects of secondhand smoke. The next Quit Smoking classes will begin on February 27 and April 8. To join either class, please call (916) 448-7900.

This Valentine’s Day, SLAA will launch a campaign encouraging people to quit smoking around their children. The spokespersons for the “Don’t smoke your baby—Don’t smoke our children” campaign are News10’s Darla Givens and family practitioner Dr. Marina Rasnow-Hill.

This campaign, funded by the tobacco litigation-settlement funds from the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services, would not be a success without the support of local health, business and family organizations that constitute our advisory committee. This committee has worked diligently to design a campaign to protect our future generations from the health disparities related to exposure to secondhand smoke.

Here’s a chance to clear things up for our children: Don’t smoke around them.