How do Parents’ Beliefs About Thirdhand Smoke Translate to Household Smoking Practices in Kuwait?

Researchers from Kuwait University surveyed 536 parents, finding that parents who understood that thirdhand smoke is harmful and persists in the environment were more likely to ban smoking in their homes. These findings suggest educating people about the dangerous effects of thirdhand smoke will motivate them to create smokefree homes.

Leta Dickinson

December 8, 2021

Smoking rules in the home differ around the world. While 50 to 60% of homes in the United States have smoking bans, studies have reported 57% of homes in Spain, 59%  in England, 61% in Italy, 66% Australia and Poland, and 68%  in Canada have instituted some form of a smoking ban.

The newest country to examine national home smoking rules is Kuwait. Two researchers from Kuwait University surveyed 536 parents about their home smoking rules and beliefs about the persistence and harms of thirdhand smoke. The findings add to the growing body of evidence that thirdhand smoke education translates to protective actions, such as home smoking bans, but that more education is needed. 

The online survey recruited parents with a child under 18. The parents were first asked a few questions about their personal characteristics (e.g., age, education, income, housing type, nationality, smoking status) and about how smoking was regulated in their homes. Home smoking rules were separated into three categories: strict smoking ban, partial smoking ban (i.e., smoking allowed outside the home only), or no smoking ban (i.e., smoking allowed inside and outside the home). Then, parents completed the Beliefs About Thirdhand Smoke (BATHS) scale, which is a standardized set of questions used to assess attitudes and beliefs about the health impact of thirdhand smoke as well as its persistence in the environment.

The researchers found that 42% of homes had a strict smoking ban in place, while 14 % had no smoking ban. Younger parents, those living in apartments, and those with a history of smoking were the least likely to have a home smoking ban. Most participants had some understanding of the harms of thirdhand smoke and its persistence, as determined by the BATHS scale. About 67% of parents answered that thirdhand smoke was detrimental to children’s health, while 61 % answered that it was detrimental to adult health. Those with the highest BATHS scores, meaning they had the strongest beliefs about the harm and persistence of thirdhand smoke, were most likely to have home smoking bans. 

This study has two important takeaways: The first is the role of thirdhand smoke education in taking protective actions. The second is that thirdhand smoke familiarity and understanding is still relatively low in Kuwait as compared to other countries. Parents in Kuwait who scored higher on the BATHS scale generally had stricter home smoking bans. This pattern is consistent with other studies that have shown parents are more motivated to adopt protective measures against thirdhand smoke if they believe it can harm their children. However, the percentage of strict home smoking bans in Kuwait is lower (42 %) compared to other countries that have been similarly surveyed (>50 %). This difference could be due to a lack of thirdhand smoke education. The adoption of health promotion campaigns focusing on the impacts of thirdhand smoke on child health could be effective at increasing the number of homes with strict smoking bans.

Click here to read the research study.

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