Qualitative study of smoking in the home

A three-phase post-legislation cross-sectional study to explore accounts of the strategies used to regulate smoking in homes and cars, the impact of the legislation on smoking in the home, and the implications for future initiatives at reducing second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure of children in the home.

A collaboration between: the Division of Community Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, and the Scottish Centre for Social Research, Edinburgh.

Principal Investigator: Professor Amanda Amos

Study aims

  • Explore smokers´ and non-smokers´ (who live with smokers) accounts of the strategies used to regulate smoking in their homes and cars following the Scottish smoke-free legislation.
  • Examine the reported impact of the legislation on smoking in the home.
  • Consider the implications for future initiatives aimed at reducing children´s exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) in the home.

Study design

  • Qualitative cross-sectional study conducted across Scotland in three phases after implementation of the smoke-free legislation.
  • In Phase 1 (June-September 2006) qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 50 smokers and non-smokers who lived with smokers across Scotland [purposefully recruited from Wave 10 (Sep-Nov 05) of the HEPS study].
  • In Phase 2 (Dec 2006-Jan 2007), qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 9 respondents selected from Phase 1 respondent households.
  • Two expert panels (June 2007) were then convened to discuss the preliminary findings of the study and identify implications for policy and practice.

Research instruments and protocols

Main outcomes

  • Respondents had awareness of, but ambivalence towards and varied understandings of, the risk of SHS. Some, particularly smokers and those who lived on their own or only with other smokers, rejected the evidence of such risks. However, there was no apparent difference in risk perception by socio-economic group.
  • Respondents often drew on personal experience about the visible effects of SHS on themselves and others as well as knowledge of the health effects of smoking.
  • Children were perceived as vulnerable, but views about when children became less vulnerable varied.
  • Most respondents restricted smoking in their homes but the extent and type of restrictions varied by socio-economic status and household smoking profile.
  • Children and grandchildren were particularly important factors in the development of restrictions.
  • There were greater restrictions on smoking in cars.
  • Diverse views were expressed about the smoke-free legislation although most were positive. Few thought it had influenced their (level of) smoking in the home, and none thought that it had affected their smoking restrictions in the home.
  • Expert panels identified gaps in knowledge and understanding among health and other professionals about SHS in the home. The knowledge gaps had an impact on the priority afforded the issue and generated uncertainties about the appropriateness and effectiveness of approaches to encouraging smoke-free homes.

See also publications from the Qualitative study of smoking in the home

Updated 21st July 2014

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