Smoking in the Home after the Smoke-Free Legislation in Scotland: Qualitative Study

Richard Phillips, Amanda Amos, Deborah Ritchie, Sarah Cunningham-Burley, Claudia Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To explore the accounts of smokers and non-smokers (who live with smokers) of smoking in their homes and cars after the Scottish smoke-free legislation; to examine the reported impact of the legislation on smoking in the home; and to consider the implications for future initiatives aimed at reducing children's exposure to secondhand smoke in the home.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A qualitative cross sectional study involving semistructured interviews conducted across Scotland shortly after the implementation of the legislation on 26 March 2006.

PARTICIPANTS: A purposively selected sample of 50 adults (aged 18-75) drawn from all socioeconomic groups, included smokers living with smokers, smokers living with non-smokers, and non-smokers living with smokers.

RESULTS: Passive smoking was a well recognised term. Respondents had varied understandings of the risks of secondhand smoke, with a few rejecting evidence of such risks. Children, however, were perceived as vulnerable. Most reported that they restricted smoking in their homes, with a range of restrictions across social classes and home smoking profiles. Spatial, relational, health, and aesthetic factors influenced the development of restrictions. Children and grandchildren were important considerations in the development and modification of restrictions. Other strategies were also used to militate against secondhand smoke, such as opening windows. The meaning of the home as somewhere private and social identity were important underlying factors. Respondents reported greater restrictions on smoking in their cars. There were diverse views on the smoke-free legislation. Few thought it had influenced their smoking in the home, and none thought it had affected how they restricted smoking in their homes.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest two normative discourses around smoking in the home. The first relates to acceptable social identity as a hospitable person who is not anti-smoker. The second relates to moral identity as a caring parent or grandparent. Awareness of the risks of secondhand smoke, despite ambivalence about health messages and the fluidity of smoking restrictions, provides clear opportunities for public health initiatives to support people attain smoke-free homes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Medical Journal (BMJ)
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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