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Publication Detail
Children's exposure to second-hand smoke 10 years on from smoke-free legislation in England: Cotinine data from the Health Survey for England 1998-2018
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Tattan-Birch H, Jarvis MJ
  • Publication date:
    01/04/2022
  • Journal:
    The Lancet Regional Health - Europe
  • Volume:
    15
  • Status:
    Published
Abstract
Background: We aimed to investigate trends in children's exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke in England from 1998 to 2018. Methods: We used twenty-one years of data from the Health Survey for England, a yearly repeated cross-sectional population study. A total of 49,460 children participated between 1998 and 2018, of whom 17,463 were biochemically confirmed non-smokers aged 4-15. We examined changes in (i) the proportion of children living in reported smoke-free homes and (ii) second-hand smoke uptake, measured quantitatively using saliva cotinine concentration. Findings: The percentage of children living in a home reported to be smoke-free increased from 63.0% (95% CI 60.5%-65.2%) in 1998 to 93.3% (91.8%-94.6%) in 2018. This increase was most pronounced among children with a smoker parent, rising from 17.1% (14.7%-19.8%) to 75.9% (70.8%-80.4%). Segmented regression showed that the rate of adoption of smoke-free homes accelerated leading up to the 2007 ban on smoking in public places, growing most rapidly in the four years after its entry into law. Between 1998 and 2018, there was a ten-fold decline in geometric mean cotinine among non-smoking children, from 0.50 ng/ml (0.46-0.56) to 0.05 ng/ml (0.04-0.06). A total of 65.0% (61.2%-68.6%) of children had undetectable cotinine in 2018, up from 14.3% (12.7%-16.0%) in 1998. Children living in rented accommodation were more exposed than those from owner-occupied households, but they experienced similar relative declines across years. Interpretation: Cotinine data show that children's exposure to second-hand smoke has fallen by some 90% since 1998, with an apparent acceleration in adoption of smoke-free homes since the 2007 ban on smoking in public places. A norm has emerged that sees smoking in the home as inappropriate, almost universally where parents are non-smokers, but also increasingly among smoking parents. Funding: Public Health England, now the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, and Cancer Research UK.
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