MORE than 8,000 children in East Lancashire live in homes with smokers.

The figure was released as health chiefs urged parents to take their cigarettes outside to avoid inflicting secondhand smoke on youngsters.

Lancashire health bosses said opening a window or back door was not enough to protect kids.

They said 80 per cent of secondhand smoke was invisible and odourless, but contained harmful can-cer-causing toxins which were unknowingly damaging children every day.

The East Lancashire Smoke Free Homes Scheme, which was developed to protect the 8,388 children living in homes with smokers, has backed a national advertising campaign which carries these messages.

Susan Hopkinson, enhanced services manager at Lancashire County Council said: “Secondhand smoke causes a range of serious health problems for children and adults.

“We want to reduce the number of children who are admitted to hospital every year in Lancashire through the effects of secondhand smoke.

“Children’s lungs are smaller and less developed so they are more vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke.

“It is vital that we do everything we can to improve awareness and reduce the risks.

“Opening a window won’t protect your health, but smoke-free cars and homes will.”

In the past four years, health workers have secured ‘pledges’ from more than 6,000 smokers in East Lancashire, who promised never to smoke in their home, while another 780 committed to smoking in just one room.

Julie Trezise, stop smoking service manager in East Lancashire, said: “Giving up smoking or making sure you have a completely smoke-free home and car is the only way to protect your family.

“If people do want to quit there is excellent support and advice available.”