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Soc Sci Med. 2005 Aug;61(3):517-26. Epub 2005 Feb 17.

Smoking behaviour change among fathers of new infants.

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School of Health and Social Studies, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.


Protecting infants from exposure to parental tobacco smoke is key to positive health outcomes in childhood and later life. While mothers' smoking has been well researched, fathers' smoking has received little attention. This paper reports data from a cross-sectional survey of 286 smoking fathers in the English Midlands, interviewed when their infants were 8-14 weeks old. It examines whether fathers attempt and successfully achieve two smoking behaviours positively associated with infant health: quitting and not smoking in the home. The birth of a new baby was not associated with attempting or successfully quitting smoking for the majority of fathers. Less than 20% had tried to quit and only 4% had successfully quit smoking since the birth of their baby. Half of the participants reported that they had not changed their cigarette consumption since their baby's birth. Not smoking in the home appeared to be a more achievable behaviour for many fathers; 78.0% had attempted and 60% had successfully achieved not smoking in home. Independent predictors of attempting to quit were fathers' own cigarette consumption and level of knowledge about infant exposure to tobacco smoke. Attempting to abstain from smoking in the home and being successful in the attempt were both independently associated with partner's smoking status, number of financially dependent children and father's social class. Findings suggest that promoting reductions in cigarette consumption and improving knowledge levels among fathers about passive smoking in infants may encourage more quit attempts. Not smoking in the home is a more achievable behaviour and is linked to fathers' caring and economic circumstances and their partner's smoking status. Influences on fathers' smoking behaviour appear to be multi-factorial. Understanding father's smoking and developing health promotion strategies to protect infants from passive smoking is likely to depend on research which can bridge the caring and economic spheres of their lives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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