Secondhand smoke exposure in Alaskan households with children

C W Dent, J E Maher, B A Pizacani, D W Dowler, K Rohde, E Peterson
Rural and Remote Health 2010, 10 (4): 1564

INTRODUCTION: Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure causes premature death and disease in children and non-smoking adults; the home is the primary source of SHS exposure. The aim of this study was to assess variance in the prevalence of children's SHS exposure in Alaskan households with an adult smoker according to rurality, race/ethnicity, income and education, household age composition, marital status, amount smoked each day, and beliefs in SHS health consequences.

METHOD: Telephone interviews were conducted between 2004 and 2007 on a population-based random sample of 1119 Alaskan adult smokers with children living in the household.

RESULTS: Respondents living with children over 5 years of age reported a significantly (p <0.05) higher prevalence of home SHS exposure, compared with those living with younger children. Respondents 40 years and older reported significantly more exposure than others. Alaska Native smokers reported significantly lower SHS exposure in their homes than those of other races, as did those living in very rural areas. Respondents' heavier smoking was significantly associated with more SHS exposure. The sub-population of adults living without other adults was approximately 1.5 times more likely to report SHS exposure than those living with other adults. As expected, having a no-smoking rule in the home greatly lowered the risk of SHS exposure in the home.

CONCLUSIONS: Although most smokers with children believed that SHS is harmful, some need to convert those beliefs into actions. The results from this study suggest that those with school-aged children, and moderate to heavy smokers should be targeted for intervention, given their high prevalence of home SHS exposure. Future work should examine reasons for low exposure levels among Alaska Native people to inform programmatic efforts in other communities.

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