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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(3):CD001746.

Family and carer smoking control programmes for reducing children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

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Research and Public Health Unit, Centre for Community Child Health, University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



Exposure to other people's cigarette smoke (environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS) is an important child health issue.


To determine the effectiveness of interventions aiming to reduce exposure of children to ETS.


The Tobacco Addiction Group register of studies was searched. MEDLINE, EMBASE and four other health and psychology databases were searched electronically, bibliographies of retrieved primary studies were checked and specialists in the area consulted.


Controlled trials with or without random allocation were included in this review if they addressed participants (parents and other family members, child care workers and teachers) involved with the care and education of infants and young children (aged 0-12 years). All mechanisms for reduction of children's environmental tobacco smoke exposure, and smoking prevention, cessation, and control programmes targeting these participants are included. These include smoke free policies and legislation, health promotion, social-behavioural therapies, technology, education and clinical interventions.


Two reviewers independently assessed studies and extracted data. Due to heterogeneity of methodologies and outcomes, no summary measures were possible and results were synthesised using narrative summaries.


Nineteen studies met the inclusion criteria, one of which was subsequently excluded. Three interventions were targeted at populations or community settings, seven studies were conducted in the well child health care setting and eight in the ill child health care setting. Twelve of these studies are from North America. In 12 of the 18 studies there was reduction of ETS exposure for children in both intervention and comparison groups. In only four of the 18 studies was there a statistically significant intervention effect. Three of these successful studies employed intensive counselling interventions targeted to smoking parents. There is little difference between the well infant, child respiratory illness and other child illness settings as contexts for parental smoking cessation interventions. The fourth successful intervention was in the school setting targeting the ETS exposure of children from smoking fathers.


Brief counselling interventions, successful in the adult health setting when coming from physicians, cannot be extrapolated to adults in the setting of child health. There is limited support for more intensive counselling interventions. There is no clear evidence for differences between the respiratory, non-respiratory ill child, well child and peripartum settings as contexts for reduction of children's ETS exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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