Objective: Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) increases morbidity for children with asthma. One method to reduce children's ETS exposure is to completely ban smoking in the home and car. We sought to evaluate the degree to which urban children with persistent asthma are protected by household and car smoking bans, and to determine whether health care professionals are counseling parents to implement smoking bans.
Methods: We asked parents of children with asthma to complete an in-person interview including questions about asthma symptoms, smokers in the home, smoking bans (home and car), and the receipt of ETS counseling by health care professionals.
Results: We included 231 children with persistent asthma symptoms (response rate 94%). Nearly half of the children lived with a smoker. Overall, only 64% of households had complete restrictions on smoking in the home and car. Even among the children with severe persistent symptoms, less than two-thirds were protected by a complete smoking ban. Among households with smokers, only 51% had a ban on smoking in the home and 49% in the car. The majority of caregivers had been questioned by health care professionals about home smoke exposure; less were asked about exposure in the car (40%) or given suggestions to decrease the child's exposure (58%).
Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the first study to establish the prevalence of smoking bans among children with persistent asthma. Many children with asthma, even those with the most severe symptoms, remain exposed to ETS in the home and in cars. Identifying and reducing smoke exposure among these children should be a health care priority.