Community Action Napa Valley Program Emphasizes Dangers Of Secondhand Smoke

They are cute and cuddly toys for kids — and local activists’ newest tools to take the fight against smoking cigarettes home to parents.

The Community Action Napa Valley (CANV) buy cigarettes Education and Quit Smoking Program this month is distributing 500 white-furred stuffed bears sporting red T-shirts labeled “My Bear Loves Clean Air.”

Handed out free at child care centers in Napa County, the so-called “Clean Air Bears” are part of a campaign to reduce secondhand smoke cigarettes in homes and prevent childhood health problems.

“It’s a wonderful time to give families something that’s fun,” said Peggy Klick, director of the CANV cigarettes Education and Quit Smoking Program. “If a child is putting this bear on his or her bed, it’s a message to the parents, if they smoke, to at least take their smoking cigarettes outside.”

Late last week, about 50 stuffed bears remained available at Clinic Ole Community Health, a service for low-income Napa residents that is partnering with CANV in a three-year campaign to publicize the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The campaign, which runs through 2013, also seeks to convince landlords to increase the number of smoke-free apartment units in the county.

The Clean Air Bears — whose anti-smoking cigarettes message is available in English or Spanish — are part of a gift set packaged in a market bag labeled “Please Don’t Smoke Around Me.”

Gift bags also contain pamphlets about the effects of secondhand cigarettes online smoke, which the Environmental Protection Agency links to about 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually among nonsmokers.

The EPA also considers discount cigarettes smoke cigarettes a risk factor for childhood asthma, and links it to at least 150,000 cases of pneumonia and bronchitis per year in babies younger than 18 months.