Father’s Day in the United States is on the third Sunday of June. It celebrates the contributions that fathers and father figures make for their children’s lives. Its origin is thought to be traced to a memorial service held for a group of men, many of them fathers, who were killed in a mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907.
No matter when or where the tradition of Father’s Day originated, it is an important celebratory day to honor and recognize the critical role that fathers play in the lives of their children. To that end, this Father’s Day the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network (WTPPN) is encouraging dads to enjoy their day of celebration but also remember how influential their actions are with their children, particularly the choices their children make regarding tobacco use. Children need their dads and, unfortunately, one in five men currently smoke, while more than 269,000 men die every year from smoking.
A recent study found that about 54% of children (aged 3–11 years) and 47% of youth (aged 12–19 years) are exposed to secondhand smoke. The primary source of secondhand smoke exposure for children is in the home. A study also found that babies exposed to secondhand smoke face a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and children face a range of serious health and developmental problems including acute respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children.
WTPPN is encouraging fathers who smoke to celebrate Father’s Day by quitting smoking and asking all dads—whether they smoke or not—to educate and protect their children from secondhand smoke.Here are some tips for dads to ensure that they are aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke and that they know how to protect their children from it.
Father’s Day is a great day to quit smoking. Children of parents who smoke are twice as likely to become smokers. Even if you have smoked for many years, you CAN quit. If you need help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOWfor information on how to successfully quit smoking.
Do not let anyone smoke around your children.
Make sure your children’s day care centers and schools are tobacco-free. A tobacco-free campus policy prohibits any tobacco use or advertising on school property by anyone at any time. This includes off-campus school events.
Make your home and car completely smoke-free. Opening a window does not protect you or your children from secondhand smoke. And please know that if you smoke in near proximity to children outdoors, it is nearly as bad for them as smoking indoors.
Enjoy your Father’s Day and let’s keep it smoke-free!
Bevan K. Baker, FACHE
City of Milwaukee Commissioner of Health
841 N. Broadway, 3rd Floor
Milwaukee, WI 53202