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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    • "Awareness of the adverse health effects of SHS exposure is an especially important factor shaping public attitudes towards smoke-free policies [21]. Research indicates that increased knowledge about the harmfulness of SHS is associated with greater efforts to minimize exposure [22, 23], reduced SHS exposure among both smokers and nonsmokers222324, and adoption of smoke-free home rules [25, 26]. Increased awareness of the adverse health effects of SHS exposure is also associated with lower smoking initiation among youth [27] and more favorable attitudes toward smokefree environments [1, 19, 28]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) causes significant disease and death. We assessed the prevalence and correlates of perceptions about the health harm of SHS among U.S. adults at the national and state level. Methods: Data came from the 2009-2010 National Adult Tobacco Survey, a national landline and cellular telephone survey. Perceptions about the health harms of SHS were assessed as follows: 'not at all harmful', 'somewhat harmful', and 'very harmful'. Descriptive statistics were used to assess the prevalence of SHS harm perceptions by tobacco use and sociodemographic factors, including sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, annual household income, region, sexual orientation, children in the household, and smoke-free law coverage. Logistic regression was used to assess odds of perceiving SHS to be "very harmful" (vs. "not at all harmful" or "somewhat harmful"), adjusting for the aforementioned factors. Results: Nationally, 64.5 % of adults perceived SHS as 'very harmful' (state range: 73.5 % [Utah] to 53.7 % [Kentucky]). By tobacco use, the perception that SHS is 'very harmful' was: 76.5 % among nonusers of tobacco; 62.1 % among noncombustible only users; 47.9 % among combustible only users; and 40.8 % among dual combustible and noncombustible users. Following adjustment, the perception that SHS was 'very harmful' was higher among females, non-Hispanic minorities and Hispanics, respondents living with children, and states with 100 % smoke-free law coverage. Among current tobacco users the odds of perceiving SHS to be 'very harmful' was lower in the Midwest than the West. Conclusions: Almost two-thirds of American adults perceive SHS as 'very harmful'; however, currently only half of all Americans are protected by comprehensive state or local smoke-free laws. These findings underscore the importance of public education campaigns to increase awareness of SHS exposure harm and the benefits of smoke-free environments. Expanding comprehensive smoke-free laws could protect all Americans from SHS.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2016 · Tobacco Induced Diseases
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    ABSTRACT: Tobacco marketing campaigns target distinct psychographic segments of the population. We describe psychographic segments among Vietnamese-American youth and their relationship to smoking behavior. This was a cross-sectional survey of 411 Vietnamese-American young people (aged 14-24 years). Cluster analysis was performed to describe different population segments. We identified four segments, categorized as follows: risk seekers, stressed pessimists, optimistic achievers, and sedentary well-behaved individuals. The risk seekers and stressed pessimists reported that they had tried smoking at some time (60% and 53%, respectively) in greater proportions than the other two segments (25% and 24%); and 20% of risk seekers and 22% of stressed pessimists were current smokers compared with 2% of the other clusters. In comparison to the other groups, the risk seekers more frequently went to bars and clubs, and their friends engaged in risky behavior. They agreed that secondhand smoke was dangerous, but accepted ventilation as an alternative to smoke-free policies more frequently than the other groups. The stressed pessimists had negative views of the future, did not value physical fitness, and doubted the dangers of secondhand smoke. Optimistic achievers were active in sports and student activities, were optimistic about future achievements, prioritized good nutrition, and supported smoke-free policies. The sedentary well-behaved group had well-behaved friends, did not value physical fitness, strongly opposed smoking, and supported smoke-free policies. Different segments of the Vietnamese-American population have different attitudes and smoking risk, which may facilitate targeted tobacco control message development. Future research should address whether similar psychographic segments exist in other ethnic populations.
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    Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · Journal of Adolescent Health
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