Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Action to achieve smoke-free homes- an exploration of experts' views

Deborah Ritchie1*, Amanda Amos2, Richard Phillips2, Sarah Cunningham-Burley2 and Claudia Martin3

Author Affiliations

1 Nursing Studies, School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, UK

2 Public Health Sciences, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, UK

3 Scottish Centre for Social Research, 73 Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH3 9AW, UK

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:112  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-112

Published: 22 April 2009



Smoking in the home is the major cause of exposure to second-hand smoke in children in the UK, particularly those living in low income households which have fewer restrictions on smoking in the home. Reducing children's exposure to second-hand smoke is an important public health and inequalities issue. Drawing on findings from a qualitative Scottish study, this paper identifies key issues and challenges that need to be considered when developing action to promote smoke-free homes at the national and local level.


Two panels of tobacco control experts (local and national) from Scotland considered the implications of the findings from a qualitative study of smokers and non-smokers (who were interviewed about smoking in the home), for future action on reducing smoking in the home.


Several key themes emerged through the expert panel discussions. These related to: improving knowledge about SHS among carers and professionals; the goal and approach of future interventions (incremental/harm reduction or total restrictions); the complexity of the interventions; and issues around protecting children.


The expert panels were very aware of the sensitivities around the boundary between the 'private' home and public health interventions; but also the lack of evidence on the relative effectiveness of specific individual and community approaches on increasing restrictions on smoking in the home. Future action on smoke-free homes needs to consider and address these complexities. In particular health professionals and other key stakeholders need appropriate training on the issues around smoking in the home and how to address these, as well as for more research to evaluate interventions and develop a more robust evidence base to inform effective action on this issue.