ARTICLE

Changes in child exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (CHETS) study after implementation of smoke-free legislation in Scotland: national cross sectional survey

BMJ 2007;335:545 (15 September),
Patricia C Akhtar, research fellow1, Dorothy B Currie, senior statistician1, Candace E Currie, director1, Sally J Haw, principal public health adviser2
1 Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU), University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, 2 NHS Health Scotland, Edinburgh EH12 5EZ

Objective
To detect any change in exposure to secondhand smoke among primary schoolchildren after implementation of smoke-free legislation in Scotland in March 2006.

Design
Comparison of nationally representative, cross sectional, class based surveys carried out in the same schools before and after legislation.

Setting Scotland.

Participants
2559 primary schoolchildren (primary 7; mean age 11.4 years) surveyed in January 2006 (before smoke-free legislation) and 2424 in January 2007 (after legislation).

Outcome
measures Salivary cotinine concentrations, reports of parental smoking, and exposure to tobacco smoke in public and private places before and after legislation.

Results
The geometric mean salivary cotinine concentration in non-smoking children fell from 0.36 (95% confidence interval 0.32 to 0.40) ng/ml to 0.22 (0.19 to 0.25) ng/ml after the introduction of smoke-free legislation in Scotland—a 39% reduction. The extent of the fall in cotinine concentration varied according to the number of parent figures in the home who smoked but was statistically significant only among pupils living in households in which neither parent figure smoked (51% fall, from 0.14 (0.13 to 0.16) ng/ml to 0.07 (0.06 to 0.08) ng/ml) and among pupils living in households in which only the father figure smoked (44% fall, from 0.57 (0.47 to 0.70) ng/ml to 0.32 (0.25 to 0.42) ng/ml). Little change occurred in reported exposure to secondhand smoke in pupils' own homes or in cars, but a small decrease in exposure in other people's homes was reported. Pupils reported lower exposure in cafes and restaurants and in public transport after legislation.

Conclusions
The Scottish smoke-free legislation has reduced exposure to secondhand smoke among young people in Scotland, particularly among groups with lower exposure in the home. We found no evidence of increased secondhand smoke exposure in young people associated with displacement of parental smoking into the home. The Scottish smoke-free legislation has thus had a positive short term impact on young people's health, but further efforts are needed to promote both smoke-free homes and smoking cessation.

 

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