New research reveals banning smoking at home protects infants

July 31, 2003

New research from the University of Warwick reveals that banning smoking in the home leads to a small but meaningful fall in infant exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, whereas less strict measures have no effect.

Parents from 314 households with young infants took part in the study. Parents were interviewed at home about their knowledge and use of harm reduction strategies, tobacco consumption, and details of the home environment. A sample of the infant's urine was taken to measure levels of cotinine (a by-product of nicotine) and creatinine.

Over 80% of parents believed that environmental tobacco smoke is harmful and 90% believed that infants can be protected from it in the home. Only one in 10 parents was unaware of any measures to reduce exposure. More than half the parents reported using more than one measure. Just under a fifth reported banning smoking in the home.

Banning smoking in the home was associated with a small but significant reduction in cotinine levels, whereas less strict or no measures had no effect on exposure of infants.

These results suggest that banning smoking at home significantly reduces infant exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, say the authors. Less strict measures, such as opening windows when smoking and using fans, are likely to have little effect on the exposure of infants.

For more information contact: Dr. Alan Dolan, Lecturer, School of Health and Social Studies, University of Warwick, Tel: +44 0-247-657-3850 Home: + 44-0-247-666-2429 Mobile:079-0039-1266 or Jenny Murray, Communications Office, University of Warwick Tel: 0-247-6574-0255 Email: jennifer.murray@warwick.ac.uk.
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University of Warwick

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