Creating Healthier, Smoke-Free Homes in China
Over 16 million children are born in China each year, and fathers who smoke in the home expose 58% of them, or 9.3 million babies, to secondhand smoke (SHS). Research shows that exposure to second-hand smoke puts infants at risk of developing lower respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome, childhood cancers, reduced physical development and decrements in cognition and behavior.
The China Tobacco Control Partnership (CTP) designed an mHealth intervention aimed at preventing newborns’ exposure to the devastating effects of SHS. This intervention established smoke-free homes and provided cessation assistance to husbands who smoke.
- reducing the risk of lower respiratory illness by 57%,
- preventing approximately 12.8 million children under age five from getting pneumonia, and
- significantly reducing the number of infant and children hospitalizations due to respiratory infections.
The strategy of changing the social norms of smoking in the home is unique because it targets mothers of newborns as the agent of change in the family unit. It also incorporates education on the harms to the newborn baby of SHS and includes numerous change strategies for success. Finally, it includes an mHealth intervention that delivers additional educational text messages to both mothers and fathers that emphasize the harms of SHS and the importance of cessation. This multi-faceted strategy can become a model for reducing SHS in the home during the infant and early childhood years, providing a cessation option for smokers, and ultimately creating a healthier environment for Chinese residents.