A colourful story book about how a teddybear and his young owner are affected by secondhand smoke is to be circulated to primary schools throughout NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
It has been written by Linda Morris, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Health Improvement Lead for Schools, and while youngsters will enjoy hearing about the escapades of “Jenny and the Bear”, the real target audience is parents and carers with the message “protect your family by making your home and car Smokefree and take smoking outside.”
Linda explained: “The idea is that the story book is taken home not just for parents to read to their children, but also for them to hopefully pick up on the message that smoking around their children can cause health problems.
“Once the story is read the youngsters then have ‘homework’ to do by being asked to colour in a picture of Jenny and the bear at the end of the book.”
Linda added: “Copies of the books can also become part of the classroom library and be used for other educational activities.”
The tale begins with Jenny being bought the bear as a treat from her Granny, and goes on to describe how her parents’ smoking at home and in the car makes her cough and the bear’s “nose” becomes “blocked” and his throat feels “very jaggy.”
Towards the end of the story Jenny’s cough is so bad that her mother takes her to their GP who suggest that her parents stop smoking in their home and smoke outside.
“The back page of the book carries some hard hitting facts and figures about why cigarettes can have an adverse affect on children,” went on Linda.
“This includes the fact that children are more at risk because their lungs are still growing and immune systems are not fully developed.
“It also explains that poisonous substances from the 4000 chemicals in every cigarette can remain in a room or car for months, the fact that children who live with smokers are three times more likely to smoke themselves, and frighteningly children can breathe in around 150 cigarettes a year when adults smoke around them.”
The back page also offers advice and where to find help if they want to quit smoking by calling Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84 or visit the website – nhsggc.org.uk/smokefreeservices.
And the story continues in the run-up to No Smoking Day on March 9th with a competition for children to name the bear, Linda said:
“Each class will be asked to suggest a name and the winner will be drawn from a hat, a bear just like the one in the story will be awarded to the winning class with each child in the class receiving a certificate to take home.”
The project is part of NHSGGC’s campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure in the home and car, in particular towards children.
Bailie Jean McFadden, Executive Member for Education, Glasgow City Council, said: "We are pleased to support NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in this work . The resource will complement the message that schools give children about passive smoking."
And if this simple story proves effective it may lead to spin-offs looking at obesity, toothbrushing, and perhaps behaviour.
For more information contact either NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]