BUILT: Toxics...Tobacco & Your Kids

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BUILT- Building Trades Unions Ignite Less Tobacco

Summary Statement

A handout focusing on the impact of smoking on your children. Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.

What do you bring home to your family?

As a union member you bring home a good paycheck. You bring home health benefits. You take care of  your family.

Do you also bring home disease and death?

Every day you are exposed to toxic substances on the job. You try to use the proper respirators and other precautions. If your work exposes you to asbestos, lead dust or other hazards you probably change your clothes before going home so that you don’t expose your family to those toxics.

When you confront Lead, Carbon Monoxide, Toluene, and MEK on the job, you know that you should take special precautions. Tobacco contains these very same ingredients. In fact, tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals — at least 50 of these are carcinogenic.

Tobacco is toxic too!

The Environmental Protection Agency has classified secondhand smoke as a “Group A” carcinogen – the most dangerous category of cancer-causing agent.

That’s why the State Building Trades Council started the BUILT project. We want to protect workers from the hazards of secondhand smoke, and we want to help smokers quit. It all begins with your family.

Tobacco hurts our children

Ear Infections

  • Up to 11.1% of all ear infections in children under the age of 3 in California are caused by secondhand smoke.1


  • Secondhand smoke causes up to 3,000 new childhood asthma cases in California each year.1

Respiratory Infections

  • Among infants and toddlers under 18 months, secondhand smoke is blamed for up to 36,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in California. 1

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

  • Smoke from parents’ cigarettes is responsible for an estimated 120 cases of sudden infant death syndrome in California. 1

Kids become smokers

  • If you smoke, your children are twice as likely to become smokers as well.2
  • When young people start, the nicotine addiction kicks in within 2-3 days, so then they can’t just quit. 3
  • More than 80% of smokers want to quit 4…but the best way to quit is not to start smoking in the first place.

Benefits of a smoke free home

– The tobacco companies have not disputed the research that shows the negative health effects that cigarette smoke has on children.

FEWER DOCTOR VISITS – Healthier children mean fewer trips to the doctor and less time off to make those visits.

LOWER HEALTH CARE COSTS – Healthier children means less money for out-of-pocket health costs. By growing up healthier, children will incur lower health care costs in their future.

LESS CHANCE YOUR CHILDREN WILL BECOME SMOKERS – Children of smokers are almost twice as likely to smoke as are children of parents who never smoked. You can avoid passing along a bad habit.

What can you do?

  • Don’t smoke in your house.
  • Don’t let others smoke in your house.
  • Don’t smoke in your car.
  • If you smoke – quit! There is a program that can help you.
Call the California Smokers’ Helpline
This free and confidential service helps you find the most effective way for you to quit.

This material was made possible by funds from the Tobacco Tax Health Protection Act of 988—Proposition 99, through the California Department of Health Services (contract #99-85070).


1 California EPA, Health Effects of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke, Final Report, September 1997.
2 Baumann KE, Foshee VA, Linzer MA, Koch GG. Effect of parental smoking classification on the association between parental and adolescent smoking. Addictive Behaviors 1990;15(5):413-22
3 University of Massachusetts, (2000, September) Tobacco Control
4 Gallup Poll, September 2000

This brochure is being distributed by your Health and Welfare Trust Fund. It was produced by BUILT — a project of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California that works directly with construction unions, apprenticeship programs and Health and Welfare funds. Our staff has developed educational resources about the health impacts of tobacco and toxics on construction sites and we provide resources to help construction workers and their family members quit if they choose to. For more information about BUILT call us at 916-442-8368.