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How do policy advisors and practitioners prioritise the protection of children from secondhand smoke exposure in a country with advanced tobacco control policy?
  1. Deborah Doreen Ritchie1,
  2. Amanda Amos2,
  3. April Shaw3,
  4. Rachel O'Donnell3,
  5. Sean Semple4,
  6. Steve Turner5,
  7. Claudia Martin6
  1. 1School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Centre for Population Health Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3ASH Scotland, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  5. 5Department of Child Health, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  6. 6Centre for Population Health Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Deborah Doreen Ritchie, School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH98AG, UK; Deborah.Ritchie{at}


Objectives The aim is to extend understanding of the policy and practice discourses that inform the development of national tobacco control policy to protect children from secondhand smoke exposure (SHSE) in the home, particularly in a country with successful implementation of smoke-free public places legislation. The Scottish experience will contribute to the tobacco control community, particularly those countries at a similar level of tobacco control, as normalising discourses about protecting children from SHSE are becoming more widespread.

Design Case study design using qualitative interviews and focus groups (FGs) with policy makers, health and childcare practitioners during which they were presented with the findings of the Reducing Families' Exposure to Secondhand Smoke (REFRESH) intervention and discussed the implications for their policy and practice priorities.

Setting Scotland, UK

Participants Qualitative interviews and FGs were conducted with 30 policy makers and practitioners who were purposively recruited.

Results Participants accepted the harm of SHSE to children; however, action is limited by political expedience due to—the perception of a shift of the public health priority from smoking to alcohol, current financial constraints, more immediate child protection concerns and continuing unresolved ethical arguments.

Conclusions In a country, such as Scotland, with advanced tobacco control strategies, there continue to be challenges to policy and practice development in the more contentious arena of the home. Children's SHSE in their homes is unequivocally accepted as an important health priority, but it is not currently perceived to be a top public health priority in Scotland.

  • Denormalization
  • Public Policy
  • Secondhand Smoke
  • Priority/Special Populations
  • Prevention

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