Objective: To examine the prevalence of smoke-free homes in England between 1996 and 2007 and their impact on children’s exposure to second-hand smoke via a series of annual cross-sectional surveys: the Health Survey for England. These comprised nationally representative samples of non-smoking children aged 4–15 (n = 13 365) and their parents interviewed in the home. Main outcome measures were cotinine measured in saliva, smoke-free homes defined by “no” response to “Does anyone smoke inside this house/flat on most days?”, self-reported smoking status of parents and self-reported and cotinine validated smoking status in children.
Results: The proportion of homes where one parent was a smoker that were smoke free increased from 21% in 1996 to 37% in 2007, and where both parents were smokers from 6% to 21%. The overwhelming majority of homes with non-smoking parents were smoke free (95% in 1996; 99% in 2007). For children with non-smoking parents and living in a smoke-free home the geometric mean cotinine across all years was 0.22 ng/ml. For children with one smoking parent geometric mean cotinine levels were 0.37 ng/ml when the home was smoke free and 1.67 ng/ml when there was smoking in the home; and for those with two smoking parents, 0.71 ng/ml and 2.46 ng/ml. There were strong trends across years for declines in cotinine concentrations in children in smoke-free homes for the children of smokers and non-smokers.
Conclusions: There has been a marked secular trend towards smoke-free homes, even when parents themselves are smokers. Living in a smoke-free home offers children a considerable, but not complete, degree of protection against exposure to parental smoking.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Ethics approval All local research ethics committees in England approved the study.