Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County Health Department, Tax Collector unite to warn parents about secondhand smoke

BROOKSVILLE — The sleeping child may be safely buckled into his car seat, but if the driver is smoking a cigarette, the air around that child poses real health risks.

In an effort to increase awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke, the Hernando County Health Department recently partnered with the county Tax Collector's Office to distribute grant-funded fliers inside each tax bill envelope.

The message is clear: Smoking with a child in the car puts the youngster at risk. Large letters across the ad spell it out: "Your car. Your smoke. Their future."

Secondhand smoke hazards for children have been clearly established, said Ann-Gayl Ellis, Health Department spokeswoman. A child exposed to secondhand smoke is at greater risk for asthma and respiratory infections now, and heart and lung disease later, even if he never chooses to smoke a cigarette himself.

Those concerns have led several states to pass legislation making it illegal to smoke in an automobile while children are present. There are no such laws in Florida, but some would like to see them, Ellis said.

The partnership with the Tax Collector's Office is the first of its kind in Hernando County. The office mails to about 65,000 households a year and it costs nothing to add the flier.

Without this partnership, the Health Department would never be able to afford such a campaign, Ellis said.

Many parents don't realize that the effects of secondhand smoke linger, sometimes for decades. A recent study found that adults who lived with a smoker during their childhood were more likely to show lung damage consistent with early-stage emphysema.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 percent of Floridians smoke, leading to nearly 29,000 deaths attributable to smoking each year.

"Seventy percent of smokers (say they) want to quit," said Ellis. "They hate that they're dependent on it. They hate that they count their cigarettes each day to make sure they have enough."

The campaign, officials said, is one step in helping parents make sure their habit doesn't affect their children.

Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at

Hernando County Health Department, Tax Collector unite to warn parents about secondhand smoke 03/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 19, 2010 8:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Here kitty, kitty ...


    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured


    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)