Background: California has significantly decreased racial/ethnic and educational disparities in smoke-free home and indoor work policies. California's ethnic-specific surveys present an opportunity to disaggregate data and examine the impact of California's smoke-free social norm campaign for Asian-American women.
Methods: The California Tobacco Use Surveys for Chinese Americans and Korean Americans were conducted in 2003 and analyzed in 2008 to compare women with lower (<or= high school graduate) or higher education status for smoke-free policy adoption and enforcement.
Results: Lower-educated and higher-educated women had similar proportions of smoke-free policies at home (58%) or indoor work (90%). However, lower-educated women were more likely than higher-educated women to report anyone ever smoking at home (OR=1.62, 95% CI=1.06, 2.48, p=0.03) and exposure during the past 2 weeks at an indoor workplace (OR=2.43, 95% CI= 1.30, 4.55, p=0.005), even after controlling for ethnicity, smoke-free policy, knowledge about the health consequences of secondhand smoke exposure, and acculturation. There was no interaction between education and knowledge about secondhand smoke health harms.
Conclusions: The intended consequences of California's tobacco-control efforts have resulted in similar rates of smoke-free policies at home and in indoor work environments among Asian-American women across educational levels. However, an unintended consequence of this success is a disparity in enforcement by educational status, with lower-educated Asian-American women reporting greater smoke exposure despite similar rates of knowledge about the health consequences of secondhand smoke exposure. Besides establishing policies, lower-educated Asian-American women may need to be empowered to assert and enforce their right to smoke-free environments.