The Daily Mirror has asked me to comment on a "story" that a well-known actress has been photographed smoking outside a pub (I think it was a pub, it was certainly outside) with her child in close proximity. A wisp of smoke was caught drifting into the child's airspace and, well, you can guess the rest.
The Mirror asked me for 250 words so I gave them 254 which I will share with you in the morning. ASH have been asked to comment too.
00:52 The Daily Mail has the story HERE. Headline: 'Puffing Billie: Toddler gets smoke in his face as actress mum enjoys a roll-up'. This is what I wrote for the Mirror (I'll add a link when it becomes available):
Billie Piper was smoking in the open air, not a small enclosed space with no ventilation.
A wisp of smoke, massively diluted, wafted over her child. Caught on camera it may not look good but the risk to a child in those circumstances must be very small indeed.
For heaven’s sake, children are exposed to chemicals and other pollutants in the home and outdoors all the time. Think of all those car fumes for a start!
The dose is the poison and a whiff of tobacco smoke isn’t going to hurt anyone unless, perhaps, you’re a very serious asthmatic.
We’ve got to stop harassing and vilifying smokers at every opportunity. Tobacco, like alcohol, is a legal product.
You’re not a bad parent just because you smoke or drink around children.
In a small enclosed space parents should err on the side of courtesy but we are seriously losing the plot if we condemn parents who light up in the open air.
The truth is, the effects of secondhand smoke have been exaggerated beyond belief.
Scaremongering has replaced common sense. The slightest hint of smoke and the tobacco taliban are flapping their hands and reaching for their smelling salts.
Billie Piper hasn’t done anything wrong. In my opinion it’s not mothers like Billie who should have their heads examined, it’s those people who will use this to jump on the anti-smoking bandwagon.
My advice to the health police and the holier than thou finger waggers is: get a life and stop invading other people’s privacy.
07:10 You can read my response in the Mirror HERE and above. Having asked for 250 words (which they told me would be edited to 200), the paper used ... 105. Interestingly, they changed the phrase "err on the side of courtesy" (an expression I first heard on Taking Liberties courtesy Rose Whiteley) to "err of the side of caution". It's obviously not a phrase they've come across before. We'll just have to keep repeating it until people get it.
Meanwhile Prof Prof Britton of ASH has this to say:
Adults have a high degree of protection from second-hand smoke since the public ban - and they have a moral duty to give children the same.
We strongly recommend parents do not light up in front of youngsters.
Breathing in other people's smoke is not just unpleasant but can cause serious harm for children including bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.
Tobacco contains over 4,000 chemicals and around 60 that are known to cause cancer.
Children who grow up in a household of smokers are also more likely to become smokers themselves.