Passive Smoking in Children : The Importance of Parents’ Smoking and Use of Protective Measures

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: Passive smoking has been recognised as a health hazard, and chidren are especially vulnerable. The general aim of this thesis was to describe and analyse the importance of parents’ smoking and smoking behaviour for children’s tobacco smoke exposure. The studies were conducted in the South-East part of Sweden and pre-school children and their parents constituted the study samples. Five studies are described in six papers. Smoking prevalence among parents (14%) and commonly used measures of protection were surveyed. An instrument designed to measure children’s tobacco smoke exposure in the home was developed and validated. It was used on 687 families with a smoking parent and a child 2½-3 years old, included in a prospective cohort study on environmental variables of importance for immun-mediated diseases ABIS (All Babies in South-East Sweden). Almost 60% of the parents stated that they always smoked outdoors with the door closed, 14% mixed this with smoking near the kitchen fan, 12% near an open door, 7% mixed all these behaviours and 8 % smoked indoors without precautions. The smoking behaviours were related to the children’s creatinine adjusted urine cotinine. All groups had significantly higher values than had children from non-smoking homes, controls. Outdoor smoking with the door closed seemed to be the best, though not a total, measure for tobacco smoke protection in the home.Most parents were aware of the importance of protecting children from tobacco smoke exposure but all were not convinced of the increased risk for disease for exposed children. The majority of parents were not satisfied with the smoking prevention in health-care and 50% did not think that their smoking was of any concern to the child health care nurse.Further research is warranted to describe if the difference in exposure score related to smoking behaviours is related to different prevalence of disease. Efforts are needed to convince those who still smoke indoors that tobacco smoke exposure influence children’s health and that consequent outdoor smoking with the door closed seemed to give the best protection.

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