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'Smoking Room' at Home Won't Shield Asthmatic Kids

Quit, or smoke outside instead, researchers warn

THURSDAY, March 16, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Simply moving to another room to smoke in the family home won't do much to protect asthmatic children, a new study finds.

In fact, asthmatic kids who live with smokers are 10 times less likely to be protected by any smoking ban in the home and car than children who live in homes with nonsmokers, researchers report.

The findings suggest that some parents don't fully appreciate the threat that secondhand smoke poses to children, especially those with asthma, noted study lead author Dr. Jill Halterman of the University of Rochester Medical Center. She said smoking in a different room or opening a window in the car does little to protect children from secondhand smoke.

"Of course, the best-case scenario is if the parents or guardians can quit smoking," Halterman said in a prepared statement. "But that's not always immediately possible. Another option is for parents to institute a 'no-smoking' rule in the home and the car, and allow no exceptions to this rule. It is best if smokers always go outside to smoke, and this strategy may also help the parents to eventually quit."

For this study, researchers surveyed 231 parents of children with persistent and severe asthma in Rochester, N.Y. Nearly half of the children lived in a home with a smoker. Among all the families in the study, 64 percent had strict no-smoking rules in both the home and car. Among families with smokers, only 40 percent had such rules. Children with severe asthma symptoms were no more likely to live in a family with a strict no-smoking policy than children with less severe asthma symptoms.

Most of the parents in the study said their healthcare providers had asked them about smoke exposure in the home, but only 40 percent said they'd been asked about smoke exposure in the car, where concentrations of cigarette smoke are higher than in the home. Few of the parents said their healthcare providers had offered them resources to help them quit smoking.

The findings appear in the March-April issue of the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: University of Rochester Medical Center, news release, March 16, 2006
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