Voluntary Smoke-Free Home Rules: Successes and Challenges

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Home is where the heart is, according to the proverb. But home is also where children are most likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke from burning tobacco products. Nearly 58 million Americans — including almost 25 million children between ages 3 years and 19 years old — are still exposed to this totally preventable health hazard, many of whom are exposed in their homes.

Exposure to secondhand smoke causes an estimated 41,000 deaths a year among non-smoking adults from heart disease and lung cancer. In children, secondhand smoke exposure causes more severe and frequent asthma attacks, acute respiratory infections, ear infections, as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The good news is we’ve made considerable progress over the past two decades increasing the percentage of US households with voluntary smoke-free rules — from 43% in 1992-1993 to 83% in 2010-2011.

However, just under half of all households with 1 or more adult smokers have adopted smoke-free rules, and nearly all non-smokers who live with someone who smokes inside the home are exposed to secondhand smoke. This underscores the importance of educating smokers on the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and the benefits of smoke-free environments. Adopting voluntary smoke-free home rules, along with smoke-free policies in multiunit housing, can reduce nonsmokers’ exposure to this preventable health hazard in the places they live and gather.


By Darryl Konter
Health Communications Specialist
McNeal Professional Services
Office on Smoking and Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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Page last reviewed: June 10, 2015
Page last updated: June 10, 2015