Promoting smoke-free homes, even if the parents smoke, could see a reduction in the number of teens and kids taking up the habit, according to a new study.
The research, done by the University of Otago, Wellington, shows the relationship between exposure to smoke in the home and adolescent smoking has become stronger over time.
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The association is independent of parental smoking - so children with parents who smoke are less likely to take up smoking if there is no smoking in the home.
"Not only do smoke-free homes protect children's health by preventing exposure to second-hand smoke, but also children from smoke-free homes are less likely to take up smoking themselves," says the study's lead author Jude Ball.
However, exposure to second-hand smoke in homes is still common.
The ASH Year 10 survey of 14-15 year olds, shows that the proportion of teen smoking attributable to second-hand smoke exposure has gone up over time, particularly for Māori, she said.
Eleven percent of Māori 14 to 15-year-olds were regular smokers, compared to five percent of the age group in the general population.
The researchers suggest that for the best chance to reduce smoking amongst teens is to eliminate ethnic disparities in teen smoking and to create a smoke-free generation with more support for parents to have a smoke free home.