Passive Smoking and Lung Disease Follow-up

Updated: Oct 07, 2021
  • Author: Timothy D Murphy, MD; Chief Editor: Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP  more...
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Further Inpatient and Outpatient Care

Further inpatient care

The requirements for inpatient care depend on the illness associated with passive smoke exposure (secondhand smoke).

For further details, please refer to Medscape Reference articles on the specific illnesses (ie, bronchiolitisbronchitisupper respiratory tract infectionotitis media).

Further outpatient care

The principal requirement of the care provider is to continue to assess for smoking in parents and to provide support and treatment for parents. Reiteration of the importance of not smoking in the home and provision of either smoking cessation information or referrals to the proper care providers are important.



Prevention of the effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) occurs through prevention of smoking; however, the effects of education regarding reducing ETS exposure to children in the family milieu are not well known.

A common clinical practice in pediatric and pediatric pulmonology offices is to counsel parents against smoking and, in particular, to focus on cessation of smoking in the home and in the car. Emphasis is placed on the importance of maintaining this rule at all times, not merely when the child is present; however, the efficacy of this approach has not been well studied. Clearly, parental concerns for a child's health are motivating factors to change parental behavior, both during pregnancy and after birth.

Enactment of laws regarding ETS exposure in public spaces has significantly reduced exposures in many communities, but these laws vary in how aggressively they are enacted or enforced. [21]

Ordinances against smoking in public places first started to appear in the 1970s. In 1977, the first modern ordinance limiting smoking in restaurants and other public places was enacted in Berkeley, California.

Following the 1986 Surgeon General's report on the health consequences of involuntary smoking, the number of ordinances rapidly grew to nearly 400 by 1988. Ordinances usually limit ETS in confined public spaces, workplaces, and restaurants. Restrictions in restaurants are usually limited; a proportion of space or seating availability is usually required to be set aside for nonsmokers. Special regulations regarding ventilation usually are not enacted.

After the release of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft report on Risk Assessment of ETS in 1990, more aggressive regulation started to appear, including ordinances banning any smoking in restaurants. By 1992, the number of smoke-free ordinances passed into law began to significantly accelerate.

The tobacco industry has responded by attempting to push for enactment of state laws that are less restrictive and that limit the ability of local government to enact more aggressive ordinances. The tobacco industry has legally challenged some ordinances on constitutional grounds, but state and federal courts have consistently upheld the constitutionality of local ordinances. As of 1993, 543 city and county smoking ordinances were in effect.

The most rapidly growing population exposed to ETS (and the source of a significantly large proportion of ETS exposure in children) is children of young mothers of lower socioeconomic status. For this reason, prevention of smoking in the adolescent population should have a direct impact on ETS exposure in infants.

In the Surgeon General's report of 1994, entitled Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People, the following major conclusions were reached: [22]

  • Almost all adult tobacco users began using during adolescence; this suggests that if adolescents were kept tobacco free, most would never start using tobacco.

  • Most young people who smoke are addicted to nicotine and report that they want to quit but are unable to do so. They experience relapse rates and withdrawal symptoms similar to those reported by adults.

  • Tobacco is often the first drug used by young people who use alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs.

  • Among young people, those with lower levels of school achievement, fewer skills to resist pervasive influences to use tobacco, friends who use tobacco, and lower self-images are more likely than their peers to use tobacco.

  • Cigarette advertising appears to increase young people's risks of smoking by affecting their perceptions of the pervasiveness, image, and function of smoking.

  • Community-wide efforts that include tobacco tax increases, enforcement of minor's access laws, youth-oriented mass media campaigns, and school-based tobacco-use prevention programs are most successful in reducing adolescent use of tobacco.

Currently, research is focused on determining which method of education will prove to be most effective in preventing tobacco use in adolescents and, increasingly, preadolescents. Attention to the social status, educational level, race, and sex of the adolescent, with regard to which approach is best, is increasingly recognized as an important determinant of success.

Focusing on more than the health effects of smoking can lead to alterations in behavior. Looking instead at social issues such as the way in which the tobacco industry has attempted to addict children, or the role of the use of additives in enhancing addiction can serve to motivate adolescents to avoid tobacco, in some cases more effectively than information on negative health consequences alone.