Attitudes About Smoking In The Home Not Reflected In Behaviour

May 05, 1998

While attitudes towards smoking in the home are changing, a University of Toronto study has found that only 20 per cent of homes in Ontario with both children and daily smokers are smoke-free.

Researchers with U of T's Ontario Tobacco Research Unit in the Centre for Health Promotion analysed the results of four studies conducted in Ontario between 1992 and 1996 on people's attitudes and behaviours regarding smoking in the home.

They found that in 1996 just 35 per cent of all homes -- and 20 per cent of homes with children and daily smoker -- were smoke-free. Fifty per cent of homes with daily smokers had no rules governing smoking in the home and 30 per cent reported having some rules such as designated smoking areas or no smoking in the presence of children.

However, researchers also found that support for no smoking by parents in the home with small children increased from 51 per cent in 1992 to 70 per cent in 1996. Among adult smokers the numbers increased from 17 per cent to 43 per cent, and among non-smokers there was a steady increase from 63 per cent support to 78 per cent in the same time frame.

"While attitudes towards smoking in the home are changing, efforts are needed to assist parents in reducing the exposure of children to environmental tobacco smoke in the home," says lead researcher Mary Jane Ashley of the department of public health sciences. "With these changing attitudes, presumably any programs mounted to address this would likely receive a better reception now than in the past."

Over 4,800 homes were contacted with a response rate of 63 to 65 per cent for each study.

The study is in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health, published by the American Public Health Association. Funding for the study was provided by Health Canada.

University of Toronto

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