Household smoking behaviours and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke among infants: are current strategies effectively protecting our young?

Authors

  • Justine B. Daly,

    1. Hunter New England Population Health, New South Wales; The University of Newcastle, New South Wales; and Hunter Medical Research Institute, New South Wales
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  • John H. Wiggers,

    1. Hunter New England Population Health, New South Wales; The University of Newcastle, New South Wales; and Hunter Medical Research Institute, New South Wales
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  • Sally Burrows,

    1. Hunter New England Population Health, New South Wales, and The University of Newcastle, New South Wales
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  • Megan Freund

    1. Hunter New England Population Health, New South Wales; The University of Newcastle, New South Wales and Hunter Medical Research Institute, New South Wales
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Correspondence to:
John Wiggers, Locked Bag 10, Wallsend, NSW 2287. Fax: (02) 4924 6048; e-mail: john.wiggers@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

Abstract

Objective: To determine the prevalence of infant exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) among infants attending child health clinics in regional NSW; the association between such exposure and household smoking behaviours; and the factors associated with smoking restrictions in households with infants.

Methods: Parents completed a computer-based questionnaire and infant urine samples were collected. Information was obtained regarding the smoking behaviours of household members and samples were analysed for cotinine.

Results: Twenty seven per cent of infants had detectable levels of cotinine. Infant ETS exposure was significantly associated with the smoking status of household members, absence of complete smoking bans in smoking households and having more than one smoker in the home. Smoking households were significantly less likely to have a complete smoking ban in place.

Conclusions: This study suggests that a significant proportion of the population group most vulnerable to ETS were exposed.

Implications: Future efforts to reduce children's exposure to ETS need to target cessation by smoking parents, and smoking bans in households of infants where parents are smokers if desired reductions in childhood ETS-related illness are to be realised.

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