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Health Promot Int. 2001 Sep;16(3):245-54.

Child health-centre-based promotion of a tobacco-free environment--a Swedish case study.

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  • 1Division of Social Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Environmental tobacco smoke exposure is an important health risk for small children. The development, spread and evaluation of a national child health-centre-based counselling method targeting environmental tobacco smoke is described. The work progressed in six steps. In a first step, accomplished in 1994, it was found that child health nurses used a limited repertoire of techniques and were dissatisfied with their discussion on tobacco smoke. In a second step, routine recording of parental smoking status was introduced at all child health centres. In a third step, a counselling method based on Bandura's self-efficacy concept was developed, 'smoke-free children'. In a fourth step, smoke-free children was tested by 28 nurses in 128 families. At follow-up discussions, all parents said that they now smoked outdoors and that they had cut down on their smoking. In a fifth step, the national dissemination of smoke-free children was studied. A manual and a videotape were launched in 1995, supported by a newsletter and 10 regional conferences in the following years. In January 1997, 36% of the child health nurses in Sweden (three counties excluded) stated that they used the method. Training of county instructors did not seem to have improved dissemination. In a sixth step, routinely collected information on parental smoking in Stockholm county on infants born 1995-1997 was used to study the effect. Little change in smoking rates between two consecutive years was found before the introduction of smoke-free children. Yet, after training of the child health nurses, the annual decrease was 1.7% in a pilot area and later, in remaining parts of the county, 2.7%. Thus, answers to two crucial questions were given: first, that the method seemed to affect parental behaviour; and secondly, that the training of county instructors might not have affected the dissemination of smoke-free children.

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