Background: Reducing adolescents' exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is an important public health goal. This paper identifies the linkage between young people's exposure at home and household smoking restrictions, and suggests the promotion of such restrictions as a strategy to reduce health risks.
Methods: Data are from the 1993 Massachusetts Tobacco Survey, a telephone survey of 1,606 adolescents.
Results: Seventy-eight percent of adolescents reported exposure to ETS during the preceding week. Reported hours of exposure at home were associated with the number of adult smokers in the household (P < 0.001). Fifty-three percent of teens who lived with smokers reported no smoking restrictions for family members, 22% reported designated smoking areas, and 25% reported smoking bans. Among those households, smoking restrictions for family members were associated with significant reductions in mean hours of ETS exposure reported: no restrictions were associated with 33.2 hr of exposure during the prior week, designated smoking areas--12.7 hr, and household smoking bans--2.4 hr. Restrictions on visitor smoking were associated with significant reductions in home ETS exposure for teens who lived with nonsmokers, but had no independent effect among teens who lived with smokers.
Conclusions: Health risks experienced by adolescents living with adult smokers can be substantially reduced by household smoking restrictions.