Many Parents Don't Set Secondhand Smoke Rules

Many Parents Don't Set Secondhand Smoke Rules

Many parents don''t enforce rules about exposing their children to secondhandsmoke at home or outside the home, a new study suggests.

Despite health warnings about the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure forchildren, researchers found that a large portion of parents don''t restrictsmoking at home, in the car, or at a restaurant.

The study showed that 40% of parents and guardians surveyed in New York andNew Jersey don''t have rules to limit their children''s secondhand smoke exposureat home, and more than 50% of family cars may expose children to secondhandsmoke.

Secondhand Smoke Harms Children

Researchers say secondhand smoke is classified as a Class A environmentalcarcinogen (cancer-causing substance) and is especially harmful to children,according to the World Health Organization. Exposure to secondhand smokeincreases children''s risk of lower respiratory tract infections, such asbronchitis and pneumonia, as well as ear infections and worsening ofasthma.

In the study, which appears in the spring issue of Families, Systems& Health, researchers surveyed 1,770 parents and guardians who werewaiting for their child''s appointment with a pediatrician in the New York-NewJersey metropolitan area.

The participants were asked about whether they enforced rules such as"Only adults can smoke," "Adults can smoke, but not aroundchildren," and "No smoking is allowed in my home."

In regard to smoking at home, the study showed:

  • About 60% of all families reported having a smoke-free home.
  • Slightly over 20% of parents allow adults to smoke in the home.
  • Over 50% ask people to smoke outside the home rather than inside.
  • About 35% allow smoking in the home but not around young children.

In general, researchers found Asian parents were least likely to establishhome smoking rules. Families with higher incomes were less likely to endorserules that restricted smoking but were more likely to have a totally smoke-freehome.

People who had never smoked were also more than five times less likely toallow smoking in their home. Having smokers in the home increased thelikelihood of rules that allowed restricted smoking.

Secondhand Smoke Outside the Home

Outside the home, the study showed that less than half of the participantsforbid smoking in the car or usually sit in the nonsmoking section ofrestaurants.

Nearly 40% of parents say they ask others not to smoke around theirchildren.

Researchers found families with low incomes and ethnic minorities were lesslikely to have rules that limit their children''s exposure to secondhand smokeoutside the home. Families with incomes over $41,000 were more likely to limitsecondhand smoke exposure outside the home and report having a completelysmoke-free home.

View Article Sources

SOURCES: Pyle, S. Families, Systems & Health, spring 2005; vol23: pp 3-16. News release, American Psychological Association.

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