The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the
survey in 2003, said it was the first study to offer a
state-by-state look at the prevalence of smoking in American homes.
Utah led the nation, with people in nearly nine out of 10 homes
saying smoking was never allowed. The state's large population of
Mormons, who eschew tobacco, probably contributed to that statistic,
the agency said.
Kentucky was in last place, with a little more than half of
households sending smokers outside (or at least to the garage).
But even in Kentucky, smokers found fewer place to light up. Ten
years earlier, only a quarter of the state's households barred
"That really says that people are starting to understand the
hazards of secondhand smoke," said Dr. Corinne Husten, co-author of
the study and chief of the epidemiology branch of the CDC's Office
on Smoking and Health.
Tobin Hilliard joined the millions of Americans living in
smoke-free homes when he moved in with his nonsmoking fiancee 10
years ago. He had to abandon the pleasure of smoking a cigarette at
the kitchen table, on the living room couch or in the bedroom.
"It was just understood: 'If you're lighting up, you will be
stepping out into whatever the weather conditions are,'" said
Hilliard, 35, who is still a pack-a-day smoker in Clermont, Fla.
The CDC report was based on a national survey done mostly by
telephone every two years. For a household to be included in the
results, everyone 15 and older had to respond, and they all had to
agree on the smoking rules.
The survey covered 127,000 U.S. households in 2003, the most
recent year for which such data was available. The study looked at
900 to 7,000 homes in each state. Similar numbers were surveyed in
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Participants were asked whether smoking was allowed everywhere in
the home, only in some places or not at all.
Among households with at least one smoker, the national
prevalence of take-it-outside rules rose from about 10 percent in
the early 1990s to 32 percent in 2003. Among households with no
smokers, the percentage with such rules rose from 57 percent to
almost 84 percent.
The CDC said the increases were driven in part by scientific
reports and other information in the last 15 years warning that
secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease.
A growing number of state and local smoking bans in restaurants,
bars and workplaces may also have been influential at home, Husten
Loyd Silberstein, a retired school teacher in California, said he
smokes at home -- but not when his children or grandchildren come
over. On those occasions, he goes out to the backyard or garage.
"My wife says I don't care about her, just the kids," laughed
Silberstein, 75, of San Mateo.
The study was published the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly
In another MMWR article this week, surveys of nearly 750,000
teens in 137 countries and territories showed that students exposed
to smoking at home were most likely to take up the habit themselves.
The study found that more than 71 percent of nonsmoking students
surveyed in Europe said they were exposed to cigarette smoke at
home. The exposure was much lower in other parts of the world --
particularly in Africa, where the statistic was just 23 percent.
[Text from file received from AP
Digital; Article by Mike Stobbe, AP medical writer]