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Tob Control. 2013 May;22(3):156-63. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050296. Epub 2012 Sep 4.

Assessing secondhand smoke exposure with reported measures.

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Department of Epidemiology, Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2213 McElderry St., 4th floor, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Non-smokers are exposed to tobacco smoke from the burning cigarette and the exhaled smoke from smokers. In spite of decades of development of approaches to assess secondhand smoke exposure (SHSe), there are still unresolved methodological issues. This manuscript summarises the scientific evidence on the use of SHSe reported measures and their methods, objectives, strengths and limitations; and discusses best practices for assessing behaviour leading to SHSe for lifetime and immediate or current SHSe. Recommendations for advancing measurement science of SHSe are provided. Behavioural measures of SHSe commonly rely on self-reports from children and adults. Most commonly, the methodology includes self, proxy and interview-based reporting styles using retrospective recall or diary-style reporting formats. The reporting method used will vary based upon the subject of interest, assessment objectives and cultural context. Appropriately implemented, reported measures of SHSe provide an accurate, timely and cost-effective method for assessing exposure time, location and quantity in a wide variety of populations.

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