As I drove Dexter to school this morning, we got stuck in the usual traffic jam. Good times. As I looked to my right, I noticed a man stood outside his front door, dragging deeply on a cigarette, shivering away in his slippers. (Thankfully, he was fully dressed.)  It then struck me … this would never have happened when I was a child. Both of my parents smoked heavily, and thought nothing of smoking around my brother and I.


Thankfully, things have moved on in the world and I no longer have to walk through the smoking carriage on a train or sit at the back of the plane because my parents can’t go three hours without a cigarette. The worst place for me as a child though, was in the car. There was just no escape from the fog and I seem to remember always feeling sick whenever I was in their car.


We would never question our parents back then – although I think as I got older I was more conscious of the negative health effects of smoking and probably nagged them more. I worried more about my parents the older I got, but by then, they felt it was too late for them to give up.


Smoking killed my mum 10 years ago this May. Her arteries were so clogged with gunk from smoking that she ended up having a massive heart attack before a stent could be fitted into her neck. I miss her every single day but I thought what happened to Mum would be the one thing that would make my dad re-evaluate his smoking habit. Unfortunately, he’s been smoking since he was 16 and he is 74 now and just feels like there is no point in quitting now. (I wholeheartedly disagree.)


I tried smoking when I was 14, never inhaling, but trying (and failing) to look cool. Thankfully, I hated it and never smoked after that and was really very anti-smoking throughout my life, so you can understand why I was so upset that my eldest started smoking when he was 16 (or possibly younger.) I think it began as a thing to do amongst his peers, but the thing with having children is I know THE worst thing you can do is tell them NOT to do something. I often used to the old “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed” line on him, which he hates, and thankfully, after a few attempts, he has now stopped.


I’m telling you all of this because the NHS have just launched a ‘Smokefree Homes & Cars’ campaign and it’s something I feel really passionate about. I can’t change the fact that I grew up surrounded by secondhand smoke for 19 years, but I hate to think that other children have to go through what I went through. There just wasn’t the support back then that there is now.


The campaign is currently featured online, on television and on radio, and as much as I find the ads a little uncomfortable to watch, the message is so important:



The main aim of this campaign is not to scold or judge, but to offer support to help people give up smoking. I don’t judge my parents for having a habit, I just wish things had been different. Did you know that exposure of children to secondhand smoke is responsible for over 300,000 general practice consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions in the UK each year and that 80% of smoke is invisible? Shocking isn’t it?


Who knows, my mum may well still be around today if she had had support to give up sooner.


If you’re a smoker, you don’t need me to tell you the damage second-hand smoke does to children but, IF you want to give up, and I urge you to at least give it serious thought, there is help there if you want it. Why not visit the Smokefree website – it’s full of free resources and advice to help you:




* I’m working with BritMums and Public Health English alongside the #brakesonsmoking campaign. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit for free support and advice.


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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.

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  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your smoking blog. In fact it rings so true that I could have easily been the writer. It’s a shame to still hear people say ‘it was ok in my day, we always smoked in the car with our kids’ …it wasn’t ok, it isn’t ok and never will be. And we don’t know what long term effects it has on us for the generation of parents that smoked around us! We have no hereditary asthma in our family and yet I became asthmatic at age 23yrs old, I truly believe that this could be from years of passive smoking.
    It isn’t hard to not smoke around your children, if you can’t give up at least don’t put your children through it! X

    1. You are so right Linda about the long term effects … I put it to the back of my mind because there’s little I can do now, but who knows how it has affected me? I’m just glad I don’t smoke so my kids haven’t gone through it like I have x

    1. I hate that too … I can’t think of a better excuse to give up, but I would hope that campaigns like this help to drive the point home and offer support to those that need it.

  2. I am so sorry to hear about your Mum Kate. I think smoking probably contributed to my mum’s death to cancer too. Your personal story and also the trip down memory lane really gets the message across. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.

  3. MY mum smoked around me & my 2 brothers until 1971.This was the year when my late younger brother was diagnosed with leukemia.My mother immediately gave up smoking when this occurred.My amazing brother survived for 7 years until the age of 11 and i do feel that my brother survived longer than expected as a result of my mum quitting smoking. However, the consequences lingered for a long time as I later developed asthma at 25, while pregnant, with my 1st child.Also, both my kids, now grown up, have asthma.
    Although neither of them have ever smoked and are otherwise healthy. I no longer have asthma and hope that my kids eventually grow out of it too.

    1. I’m really sorry about your brother, that must have been incredibly hard on you all. That’s amazing you no longer have asthma, I didn’t realise you could grow out of it so that’s fantastic – fingers crossed your kids grow out of it too. Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment x

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