Posters designed by pupils from Cherrywood and St Bernadette's primary schools will be popping up around Rushmoor as part of a new campaign to encourage smoke free homes.
The 'Step Out' campaign being launched by Hampshire County Council in partnership with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Rushmoor Borough Council aims to encourage people to protect their families from the dangers of second hand smoke and reduce the risk of fire by not smoking indoors.
Cigarettes are the second most common cause of fires in the home in Hampshire and breathing in other people's tobacco smoke is known to cause a range of disorders from minor eye and throat irritation through to heart disease and lung cancer. Second hand smoke is especially dangerous for children, babies, and women who are pregnant.
The school competition asked children from Cherrywood and St Bernadette's Primary Schools to design a poster to encourage people who smoke to do so outside, with an exclusive VIP tour of Rushmoor Fire Station on offer as the prize. It formed part of a lesson on smoke free homes, using a Hampshire County Council resource pack designed to help primary schools discuss fire safety and the dangers of second hand smoke with pupils and parents.
The overall winners were Kritika Gurung and Shreenidhi Kandekar from Cherrywood Primary School, both aged 11 and Alexandra Roy age 10 from St Bernadette's Primary School. Their designs were chosen because they gave a clear and simple message for people to keep their smoke away from children. Their creations will now be turned into printed posters that will be displayed across the district. In addition there were five runners up whose designs will also be featured within campaign material. They were: Hannah Stevens and Alexandra Roy from St Bernadette's Primary School and Awaz Gurung, Asia Gurung, Nikita Sautos, and Kahlan Lewis from Cherrywood Primary School.
Competition winner Kritika said: "Before this competition, I did not realise how dangerous second hand smoke could be; I was shocked to find out that there were so many poisonous gases in cigarette fumes."
Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health at Hampshire County Council, said: "The young people have come up with some brilliant designs that will really help to spread the message that the best way to protect your family from the dangers of cigarette smoke is to make your home smoke free. That means, if you are going to smoke, making sure you go right away from the house. No level of cigarette smoke is safe - it can hang around for up to two hours in the house or car, even if you leave a window open."
Rushmoor Fire Station Manager, Paul Robson said: "We are delighted to be working with our partners on this initiative. As a fire service we would encourage people to be aware of the increased risk of fire as well as the dangers of second hand smoke. Smoking is the single biggest killer in accidental fires in the home. If you do choose to smoke, stub cigarettes out properly, dispose of them carefully and always ensure that you keep matches and lighters out of children's reach."
In addition to the poster competition and resource for schools the Step Out Smoke Free Homes campaign has seen Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Fire and Rescue providing training for Children's Centres' staff, Health Visitors and School Nurses.
To view a display of all the competition posters from both schools, you can visit Princes Mead Shopping Centre, Farnborough, where they will be on show for two weeks from 2nd June to 16th June.
For more information and advice on making your home smoke free.
For smokers who want to quit altogether, the local NHS Stop Smoking Service, Quit4Life, can offer friendly help and professional support for free - contact them on 0845 602 4663 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org