BACKGROUND: There is considerable evidence that tobacco control mass media campaigns can change smoking behaviour. In the UK, campaigns over the last decade have contributed to declines in smoking prevalence and been associated with falls in cigarette consumption among continuing smokers. However, it is less evident whether such campaigns can also play a role in changing smokers’ behaviour in relation to protecting others from the harmful effects of their smoking in the home. We investigated whether exposure to English televised tobacco control campaigns, and specifically campaigns targeting second hand smoking, is associated with smokers having a smoke-free home.
METHODS: We used repeated cross-sectional national survey data on 9872 households which participated in the Health Survey for England between 2004 and 2010, with at least one adult current smoker living in the household. Exposure to all government-funded televised tobacco control campaigns, and to those specifically with a second hand smoking theme, was quantified in Gross Rating Points (GRPs), an average per capita measure of advert exposure where 100 GRPs indicates 100 % of adults exposed once or 50 % twice. Our outcome was self-reported presence of a smoke-free home (where no one smokes in the home on most days). Analysis used generalised additive models, controlling for individual factors and temporal trends.
RESULTS: There was no association between monthly televised campaigns overall and the probability of having a smoke-free home. However, exposure to campaigns specifically targeting second hand smoke was associated with increased odds of a smoke-free home in the following month (odds ratio per additional 100 GRPs, 1.07, 95 % CI 1.01 to 1.13), though this association was not seen at other lags. These effects were not modified by socio-economic status or by presence of a child in the home.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide tentative evidence that mass media campaigns specifically focussing on second hand smoke may be effective in reducing smoking in the home, and further evaluation of campaigns of this type is needed. General tobacco control campaigns in England, which largely focus on promoting smoking cessation, do not impact on smoke-free homes over and above their direct effect at reducing smoking.