Smoking hygiene: a study of attitudes to passive smoking

N Z Med J. 1999 Feb 12;112(1081):33-6.


Aim: To study the attitudes and knowledge of adults in the Wellington area about the effects of passive smoking and measures to reduce exposure to smoke.

Methods: A sample of 200 people, randomly selected in the Wellington area, answered a telephone survey on passive smoking.

Results: Of the 200 respondents, 160 (80%) were males, 40 (20%) were females and approximately one-third (30%) were smokers. Most people (85.5%) thought public and private areas should be smoke-free when there were children around, but only half (53.5%) thought that smoking should be banned in cars when there are passengers. Most people (92.5%) correctly defined passive smoking. Half were aware that passive smoking negatively contributed to all the following diseases (asthma, cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems) and cot death but a higher percentage identified cancer (75.5%) and cot deaths (68.5%) specifically. Most smokers reported that they smoke at home or in their cars rather than in public places. Half the smokers (50.9%) did not smoke in front of children; a further 17.3% reported that they smoked less.

Conclusions: In this sample there was a relatively low level of awareness of the effects of passive smoking on health and a high prevalence of smoking in the presence of children. Smokers and non-smokers were almost equally divided on whether there should be a law restricting smoking in private cars, although the majority agreed that cars carrying children should be smoke-free. Public health efforts to reduce the harm from passive smoking should be focused on discouraging smoking, in settings in which children are exposed, including private cars when children are passengers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • New Zealand
  • Public Opinion
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution