Young children can be protected from much of the harm from tobacco smoke exposure if their parents quit smoking. Some researchers encourage parents to quit for their children's benefit, but the evidence for effectiveness of such approaches is mixed.


To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify the effects of interventions that encourage parental cessation.


We searched PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and PsycINFO. Controlled trials published before April 2011 that targeted smoking parents of infants or young children, encouraged parents to quit smoking for their children's benefit, and measured parental quit rates were included. Study quality was assessed. Relative risks and risk differences were calculated by using the DerSimonian and Laird random-effects model.


Eighteen trials were included. Interventions took place in hospitals, pediatric clinical settings, well-baby clinics, and family homes. Quit rates averaged 23.1% in the intervention group and 18.4% in the control group. The interventions successfully increased the parental quit rate. Subgroups with significant intervention benefits were children aged 4 to 17 years, interventions whose primary goal was cessation, interventions that offered medications, and interventions with high follow-up rates (>80%).


Interventions to achieve cessation among parents, for the sake of the children, provide a worthwhile addition to the arsenal of cessation approaches, and can help protect vulnerable children from harm due to tobacco smoke exposure. However, most parents do not quit, and additional strategies to protect children are needed.

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