Objective: This study hypothesized a continual decline in current smoking prevalence between four calendar years (1995, 1998, 2002/03, and 2007) and also no significant increase in second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure at home post the workplace smoking ban of March 2004 (2007 survey vs. 2002/03 survey) among the Irish school children.
Methods: We used a modified ISAAC (International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood) protocol. Children aged 13-14 years were studied: 2,670 (in 1995), 2,273 (in 1998), 2,892 (in 2002-2003), and 2,805 (in 2007). ISAAC is a cross-sectional self-administered questionnaire survey. Randomly selected representative post-primary schools (the sampling frame) were recruited. Smoking history was self-reported. Beta-coefficients (slopes) of smoking rates across the four survey waves were computed. Odds ratios for smoking rates were also computed using the baseline year (1995), as the reference period. All analyses were performed using SAS software (9.1v).
Results: We saw significant reductions in active smoking rates between 1995 and 2007 (from 19.9 to 10.6%, respectively) resulting in 3.3% survey-to-survey reductions, with a significantly greater survey-to-survey decline among girls vis-à-vis boys (3.8% vs. 2.7%, respectively). 45% of children are exposed to SHS at home in 2007. There was a statistically non-significant 2% overall decline in SHS exposure levels at home in 2007 relative to 2002/03 survey years, but more pronounced in girls.
Conclusions: The continual reduction in active smoking prevalence in children is a welcome sign. No significant increase in SHS exposure at home post the nationwide workplace smoking ban in March 2004 also indirectly suggests that the workplace smoking ban did not increase smoking inside homes.