PETROL stations across Cumbria are supporting health bosses to reduce the number of parents who choose to smoke in their cars.

Posters have been sent to every petrol station in the county reminding parents that smoking in cars with the window down is still harmful to other people in the car’s health, especially children, as part of a second hand smoke campaign.

The images aim to remind parents just how harmful tobacco smoke is and how it can still linger in cars and on clothing even when they have stopped smoking.

Breathing in other people's smoke is known as passive, involuntary or secondhand smoking.

Exposure to second hand smoke also has immediate health effects. It can reduce lung function; exacerbate respiratory problems; trigger asthma attacks; reduce coronary blood flow; irritate eyes; and cause headaches, coughs, sore throats, dizziness and nausea.

In children, passive smoking is linked to increased risk of: - Cot death (sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS) - this is twice as likely in babies whose mothers smoke - Developing asthma - smoking can also trigger asthma attacks in children who already have the condition - Serious respiratory (breathing) conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia - younger children are also much more likely to be admitted to hospital for a serious respiratory infection - Meningitis - Coughs and colds - And middle ear infection, which can affect a child’s hearing for life.

Children who grow up with a parent or family member who smokes are also about twice as likely to start smoking later in life.

This summer Cumbria Tobacco Alliance, which brings together public bodies from across Cumbria, such as Cumbria County Council and NHS Cumbria, is running the second hand smoke campaign alongside Smokefree North West. The aim of the campaign is to remind people and ask parents in particular to consider not smoking whilst they drive in order to reduce their child’s chance of getting ill after breathing in their smoke.

Su Sear is a Public Health Specialist for NHS Cumbria and member of the Cumbria Tobacco Alliance. She said: “We often talk about asking adults and parents who smoke to consider taking seven steps out of their homes whilst smoking in order to protect the health of others. However, when someone is driving, they can’t take seven steps out. So instead we ask that parents and adults just don’t smoke in their cars at all. Even if a child isn’t present every time they drive, tobacco smoke can linger on furniture and clothes and can still cause harm.

“We hope that these posters will remind people of these dangers and encourage more people to consider the impact their habit has on others, especially children, whose health is entirely vulnerable to second hand smoke.” Angela Jones, Chair of Cumbria Tobacco Alliance and Trading Standards Manager said: "Through effective partnership working we have made a lot of progress protecting children in Cumbria by reducing exposure to second hand smoke and restricting access to tobacco. Unfortunately some children are still exposed to second hand smoke in cars and they cannot escape the harmful fumes. We urge parents and other adults to consider the health impacts for children and make your car smokefree."