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Publication #FAR5019

Parents Failing to Restrict Second-Hand Smoke 1

Donna Davis2

Figure 1. 
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Great amounts of media attention have been given to laws that ban smoking in public areas and the consistent warnings that second-hand tobacco smoke is especially harmful to children's health. Studies have consistently shown that environmental second-hand smoke is increasing the incidence of respiratory infection (such as bronchitis and pneumonia), middle ear diseases, and aggravation of asthma. However, a recent study found many parents still fail to limit children's exposure to tobacco smoke.

The study, published in Families, Systems and Health, involved more than 1,700 parents and guardians who were surveyed while waiting to meet with their child's pediatricians. Researchers from University of Missouri found that children are exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke in 40% of homes and in more than 50% of family cars. Additionally, less than half of the parents or guardians choose to sit in non-smoking sections of restaurants or trains. Likewise, less than half ask others not to smoke in the presence of their children (Pyle, Haddock, Hymowitz, Schwab, & Meshberg, 2005).

The research also concluded that, as expected, the higher the income and education, the more likely families were to have home smoking rules. Families with an annual household income of more than $41,000 were more likely to report having an entirely smoke-free home and to limit exposure outside the home (Pyle, Haddock, Hymowitz, Schwab, & Meshberg, 2005)..

The researchers believe these results support the need for greater public health efforts to protect children from the effects of second-hand smoke.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to the radio broadcast:


Pyle, S., Haddock, C.K., Hymowitz, N., Schwab, J., & Meshberg, S. (2005). Family rules about exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Families, Systems & Health, 23, 1, 3-16.



This document is FAR5019, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 157 and published January 2008. Revised January 2008. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Please visit the EDIS website at


Donna Davis, senior producer, Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.