Habits: Smoking in the Dog's House
The New York Times, Health, August 5, 2003
Smokers who want to reduce the harm posed to babies by secondhand smoke should avoid half measures and simply ban smoking from their homes, a new study warns.
Writing in the current BMJ, a British medical journal, researchers said that babies raised in nonsmoking homes had "small but significant" differences in their levels of a nicotine byproduct, cotinine, from those raised in homes where smoking was allowed.
Little benefit, they said, was gained when parents took steps like refraining from smoking in the same room as the child or opening windows to air out the homes when they were smoking.
The researchers looked at more than 300 households where there were smokers living with infants, asking parents what they did to limit their children's exposure and measuring the levels of cotinine in the babies' urine.
A large majority of parents, the study reported, believe that secondhand smoke is harmful and that there are measures they can take to protect their children from it.
While 65 percent reported taking various steps to reduce their children's exposure, only 18 percent said they barred smoking in their homes. The children of those parents had lower levels of cotinine, the study said.