We’ve joined forces with health colleagues to help residents keep their homes smoke-free.
Our campaign with Walsall Council’s Public Health Team and the NHS aims to highlight the hidden dangers of smoking indoors, the dangers of second-hand smoke and the risk of house fires.
In the West Midlands, almost 40 per cent of fatal house fires are caused by smoking.
Pete Wilson, our Group Manager for Prevention, said: “Smoking causes the most fire-related deaths. We hope the campaign persuades as many smokers as possible to give it up because of the clear risks to themselves, their family and their home.
“Sadly, six people died in West Midlands house fires caused by smoking between April and December 2019, five of these in the Black Country.
“People often smoke in the comfort of their own home, on sofas and chairs where it’s all too easy to fall asleep and to drop the cigarette. As our firefighters know, the consequences can be horrific.
“If you’re not ready to give up smoking, then please smoke outside your home and fully extinguish the cigarette before you go back indoors. Our firefighters can offer lots of advice during a free Safe and Well visit, for you or someone whose safety you’re worried about.”
To request a Safe and Well visit, please click here.
We’ll be handing out ‘Smoking kills’ leaflets across the Black Country when we conduct the visits, and our firefighters also offer brief advice and information about support services available.
Two videos have been produced to inform local people just how dangerous smoking at home can be. The video featuring staff from West Midlands Fire Service is above and the other, featuring an interview with a local GP, can be viewed on YouTube here.
Around two million UK children are thought to be regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in the home, which is a lethal cocktail of more than 4,000 irritants, toxins and cancer-causing substances.
Children who live in a household where at least one person smokes are more likely to develop asthma chest infections, meningitis, ear infections, coughs and colds.
Dr Ryan Hobson, GP at Lichfield Street Surgery in Walsall, said: “With more than 35,000 adults smoking in Walsall, we are concerned about the impact of second-hand smoke on children. It’s mostly invisible and odourless, so no matter how careful you think you're being, people around you still breathe in the harmful poisons. Giving up smoking is by far the best way to protect your family and we can help you quit to give you and your loved ones a healthier future.”
Stephen Gunther, Director of Public Health at Walsall Council, said: “We are committed to step-up efforts to encourage as many smokers in Walsall to quit and we have partnered with West Midlands Fire Service to raise awareness of the hidden dangers.
“Between 2016 and 2018, more than 1,000 people in Walsall died from smoking but this can be prevented. If you smoke, we can help you quit and support you to make your home smoke-free and keep everyone within it safe.
“We can help you choose the right support for you from stop smoking apps, text support and email support to one-to-one smoking advisor appointments. Telephone the Walsall Stop Smoking Service on 01922 444044 or visit oneyouwalsall.com to take the first steps to becoming smoke-free.”
Smokers can visit nhs.uk/smokefree to order a free Smokefree Kit.