Teens Want Smoke-Free Air

Smoke free policy support comes in large numbers from teens

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Attitudes towards smoking have changed drastically over the past 50 years. Even smoking teenagers are in support of smoke-free policies these days.

A recent study surveyed over 7,000 middle and high school students, both smokers and non-smokers, about their attitudes towards smoke-free policies. The majority of students supported smoke-free policies for both indoor and outdoor, public and private venues.

“Until smoke-free legislation becomes universal, youth are at risk for exposure in many venues…Research suggests that no level of exposure to secondhand smoke is safe, “ said authors.

"Don’t smoke around minors."

Kelly L. Kandra, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Benedictine University in Illinois, worked with a team of researchers to investigate student attitudes towards smoke-free policies.

For the study, 3,805 middle school students and 3,301 high school students responded to the North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey in 2009. The survey consisted of 80 questions to gather information on habits, attitudes and intentions towards multiple forms of tobacco consumption.

The survey included questions to assess attitudes about limiting smoking in homes, vehicles, indoor and outdoor public places and indoor work environments.

Results of the survey revealed middle school responders' support for “never allow smoking” at rates of 86 percent in the work place, 84 percent in the home, 82 percent in vehicles, 79 percent at indoor public places and 63 percent for outdoor public places.

High school responders' support for “never allow smoking” was 79 percent in the home, 79 percent in the work place, 76 for indoor public places, 73 percent in vehicles and 54 percent in outdoor public places.

Students who did not smoke were more likely to support “never allow smoking” than students who smoked but wanted to quit.

Students who smoked but wanted to quit were more likely to support “never allow smoking” than current smokers who did not want to quit smoking.

Authors said, “Smoke-free policies have also been linked to reduced cigarette use in youth.”

Authors noted that 36 states currently have some level of smoke-free legislation that applies to the workplace, restaurants and bar venues, but only eight states have smoke-free legislation concerning outdoor public places.

Authors concluded, “We found that these middle school and high school students want greater protection from [second-hand smoke] exposure."

"These findings are important given that many youth have little control over their exposure to [second-hand smoke], which is dependent on the smokers around them and the degree to which smoke-free policies exist in the places they frequent.” 

This study was published in January in Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, And Policy.

The study was supported by the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission Independent Outcomes Evaluation of Tobacco Initiatives contract. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 10, 2013
Last Updated:
January 16, 2013