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Smoking and your child

  • Parent smoking is an important child and adolescent health issue. Children with a parent who smokes have a significantly increased risk of disease, hospitalisation, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and a doubled risk of that child taking up smoking themselves in adolescence.

    Passive smoking is bad for children's health, especially in cars and closed spaces (such as inside the house). Even smoking near an open window or just outside a door exposes children to the damaging toxins and chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

    Diseases in children associated with exposure to smoking

    Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke are more at risk of developing certain illnesses than adults. This is because children breathe a lot faster than adults, so they breathe more smoke in, and their immune and breathing (respiratory) systems are not as well developed.  Exposure to cigarette smoke will mean your child is more likely to develop:

    • asthma
    • bronchiolitis
    • pneumonia
    • croup
    • ear infections
    • tonsillitis.

    Children who live in households where a parent smokes are more likely to be admitted to hospital with these conditions.

    Quit smoking

    Three out of every four adults who smoke would like to give up, and more than half of the rest think about it.

    Parents who stop smoking are doing the right thing for their own health, and importantly, promoting the health of their children - both now and in the future.

    For more information

    • Seek advice from your GP. Talk to them about various options available to help you quit, including medications and nicotine replacement i.e. patches and gum, was well as other support.
    • Contact Quitline T: 131 848.  This is a telephone information and advice service provided by QUIT Victoria. You will speak to a trained staff member who can provide information and a variety of free services. Or visit
    • Visit

    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital General Medicine. First published: 2008. Reviewed: May 2011


This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.