OBJECTIVE: No study has ever reported the association between persistent respiratory symptoms and exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) in adolescent smokers. The impact of SHS exposure on child health could be largely underestimated by not taking into account such effects. We investigated the association between exposure to SHS and respiratory symptoms among adolescent current smokers.

METHODS: A total of 32506 students aged 11 to 20 years from 85 randomly selected secondary schools in Hong Kong completed a self-administered questionnaire that included persistent respiratory symptoms (for 3 consecutive months in the past 12 months), number of days of SHS exposure per week at home and outside home, smoking status, amount of active smoking, and other basic demographic characteristics and socioeconomic status.

RESULTS: Adolescent current smokers who were exposed to SHS at home 1 to 4 and 5 to 7 days/wk were 50% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3%–121%) and 77% (95% CI: 5%–199%) more likely, respectively, to report respiratory symptoms compared with those who were unexposed (P = .01 for trend). The corresponding figures for exposure outside home were 41% (95% CI: 3%–94%) and 85% (95% CI: 31%–161%; P = .004 for trend). Such associations were also observed among never-smokers, but they were weaker than those among current smokers (P < .01 for interaction).

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first evidence that SHS exposure is associated with increased risks for persistent respiratory symptoms among adolescent current smokers. Health promotion programs should aim at SHS reduction as well as smoking cessation among adolescent smokers.

You do not currently have access to this content.