Second-hand smoke exposure in cars and respiratory health effects in children

Eur Respir J. 2009 Sep;34(3):629-33. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00167608. Epub 2009 Apr 8.


We examined potential associations of ever asthma, and symptoms of wheeze (past 12 months), hay fever, eczema and bronchitis (cough with phlegm) among school children exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS) in cars, using a modified Irish International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) protocol. 2,809 children of 13-14 yrs old and who selected randomly from post-primary schools throughout Ireland completed the 2007 ISAAC self-administered questionnaire. Adjusted OR (adjusted for sex, active smoking status of children interviewed and their SHS exposure at home) were estimated for the associations studied, using multivariable logistic regression techniques. Overall, 14.8% (13.9% in young males, 15.4% in young females) of Irish children aged 13-14 yrs old were exposed to SHS in cars. Although there was a tendency towards increased likelihood of both respiratory and allergic symptoms with SHS exposure in cars, wheeze and hay fever symptoms were significantly higher (adjusted OR 1.35 (95% CI 1.08-1.70) and 1.30 (1.01-1.67), respectively), while bronchitis symptoms and asthma were not significant (1.33 (0.92-1.95) and 1.07 (0.81-1.42), respectively). Approximately one in seven Irish schoolchildren are exposed to SHS in cars and could have adverse respiratory health effects. Further studies are imperative to explore such associations across different population settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Automobiles*
  • Bronchitis / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Eczema / epidemiology
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution