Open Access Research article

The role of nicotine replacement therapy for temporary abstinence in the home to protect children from environmental tobacco smoke exposure: a qualitative study with disadvantaged smokers

Olesya Atkinson1, Tim Coleman1, Ann McNeill2, Sarah Lewis3 and Laura L Jones3*

Author Affiliations

1 UKCTCS and Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

2 UKCTCS and National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK

3 UKCTCS and Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:262  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-262

Published: 22 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has recently been licensed to help smokers to abstain from smoking for short time periods and recent studies have shown that 8-14% of smokers are regularly using NRT to cope when they cannot or are not allowed to smoke. These data suggest that, potentially, NRT for temporary abstinence might be an acceptable method to help smoking caregivers, who are not able to stop smoking completely, to avoid smoking whilst inside their home in order to protect their children from the harms of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The aim of this study was therefore to explore the concept of using NRT for temporary abstinence in the home, to protect children from exposure to ETS.

Methods

Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with thirty six disadvantaged smoking parents who were currently, or had recently stopped smoking in the home with at least one child under the age of five. Parents were recruited from Children’s Centres and Health Visitor Clinics in Nottingham, UK. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were coded and analysed thematically to identify emergent main and subthemes.

Results

Overall, participants responded negatively to the concept of attempting temporary abstinence in the home in general and more specifically to the use of NRT whilst at home to reduce children’s exposure to ETS. Many parents would prefer to either attempt cutting down or quitting completely to make a substantial effort to change their smoking behaviour. There was limited interest in the use of NRT for temporary abstinence in the home as a first step to quitting, although some parents did express a willingness to use NRT to cut down as a first step to quitting.

Conclusion

Disadvantaged smoking parents were reluctant to initiate and maintain temporary abstinence with or without NRT as a way of making their homes smoke free to protect their children’s health. More education about the specific risks of ETS to their children and the utility of NRT for use in the home might be needed to have a public health impact on children’s health.

Keywords:
Environmental tobacco smoke; Nicotine replacement therapy; Temporary abstinence; Smoke-free home; Qualitative; Interview; Caregivers