Home Ban on Smoking May Keep Teens From Starting
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Smoking is prohibited in schools, most workplaces, and many public areas in the United States. Of the many places that ban smoking, a ban on the habit at home is the most effective at stopping teens from starting to smoke, acco
Limitations on smoking at work, in schools and in public places have increasingly been associated with reduced smoking rates among adults, but University of Illinois at Chicago investigators wondered about how smoking restrictions impact the risk of teens taking up the habit. Their study, published in the August 5th issue of the British Medical Journal, found that rules in the home made the most impact on teenagers.
``Banning smoking in the home, even when parents smoke, gives an unequivocal message to teenagers about the unacceptability of smoking, as do restrictions on smoking in public places,'' the researchers report.
The study looked at smoking restrictions in the home, at school, and in public places, and how those policies affected smoking initiation and prevalence among high school students. Researchers surveyed 17,287 teens in 202 US schools during the spring of 1996. Students were asked about their use of cigarettes, family members who smoked, and family smoking policies. Information on school smoking regulations and state, county or local laws prohibiting smoking in public spaces was collected from several databases.
While stronger public restrictions decreased the odds that teenagers might start smoking or step up their use of cigarettes, the investigators found ``home smoking restrictions had a much greater effect than bans in public places.'' Furthermore, homes with a total ban on smoking significantly reduced smoking initiation in teens. School bans, however, reduced smoking initiation among adolescents only when they were strongly enforced.
``There is a relationship between where people are allowed to smoke in the home and the adolescent smoking,'' Rea Jean Proescholdbell, a smoking policy researcher at Arizona State University in Tempe, told Reuters Health. ``Those adolescents who see regular smokers having to go outside are less likely to start smoking themselves.''
Proescholdbell published a study in the June issue of the Journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, which supports the Chicago team's findings. Her study found that teens who routinely see smoking in the home were more likely to try cigarettes than those with completely restrictive home smoking policies. Similarly, those teens living in homes with no limitations on smoking were more likely to start smoking than those with restrictions, where smoking might be allowed in only one room for example, Proescholdbell said.
``This idea of home smoking policy is just one more tool to help prevent adolescent smoking,'' she said. ``Parents are teaching their children and adolescents that there is something wrong with smoking, that it is bad enough that people have to go outside.''