Clear the air: Adolescents' perceptions of the risks associated with secondhand smoke

Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States
Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.09). 08/2005; 41(1):16-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.11.002
Source: PubMed


Despite numerous studies on adolescents' recognition of the medical risks of primary smoke, there have been surprisingly few investigations of how adolescents perceive the risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke. This study examined whether adolescents' risk estimates when exposed to secondhand smoke differed by: (1) actual smoking experience and (2) adolescents' intentions to smoke in the near future. We also explored whether adolescents perceive different risk depending on who is producing the secondhand smoke.
Three hundred and ninety-five 9th graders (mean age = 14.0) completed a survey concerning their perceptions of secondhand smoke, smoking experiences, and intentions.
On average, adolescents were aware of the serious risks posed by exposure to secondhand smoke. However, adolescents who smoke or intend to smoke were more likely to perceive the risks from exposure to secondhand smoke as lower than did adolescents who had never smoked or had no intentions to smoke.
The findings from this study suggest that education regarding the risks of secondhand smoke might serve as an additional deterrent against smoking and smoking intentions. Further study using longitudinal data is still needed to fully understand the relationship between such perceptions and smoking behavior.

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