'The message can help kick the butt'
People who see news stories and advertisements about the dangers of secondhand smoke are more likely to feel that it is harmful, and may restrict smoking at home.health and fitness Updated: Jan 09, 2006 16:22 IST
"Smoking is injurious to health" - the health warning on a cigarette box fails to influence smokers to kick the butt, but it may reduce passive smoking in homes.
A new study published in the American Journal of Health Behaviour has found that people who see news stories and advertisements about the dangers of secondhand smoke are more likely to feel that it is harmful, and may restrict smoking at home.
Secondhand smoke exposure has been linked to lung cancer and heart disease in adults and severe respiratory infections and asthma, particularly in infants and young children.
Secondhand smoke exposure has been linked to lung cancer and heart disease in adults and severe respiratory infections and asthma, particularly in infants and young children. Anti-secondhand smoke media account for 10 per cent of people's negative attitudes about secondhand smoke, but these negative attitudes explain nearly 60 per cent of home smoking restrictions.
"Media work through changing people's attitudes to get them to change home smoking rules," said lead researcher W Douglas Evans.
People may have to process the information they get from the media through family discussions or through one person in a household taking a strong position on secondhand smoke before the change in attitude becomes a change in home restrictions, Evans suggested.
The researchers measured the link between anti-secondhand smoke messages and home restrictions through a survey of 2,348 adults conducted by the American Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit anti-smoking foundation. About 23 per cent of those surveyed were current smokers.
Researchers asked the survey participants whether they had seen news stories or ads about "the dangers of kids being around cigarette smoke" and "efforts to ban smoking in public places," among other questions. They also asked the participants to agree or disagree with statements such as, "It is harmful to a person's health if they live in a house where a smoker smokes tobacco indoors" or, "Inhaling someone else's cigarette smoke can cause lung cancer in nonsmokers."
Only 11 per cent of those surveyed lived in a house with no smoking restrictions, while 65 per cent of those surveyed had complete smoking bans within their homes.
"Our evidence suggests that if money were spent on it, it would be effective. The question is where to get the money," Evans said.