Opening a window or wafting away smoke do nothing to reduce children's exposure to tobacco, researchers have found.
(written by SLPM Self-care staff)
Only banning smoking inside the home altogether has any significant effect.
Public health advocates say parents need to be told they can protect their children from the effects of passive smoking, even if they cannot quit altogether.
Researchers from the University of Warwick interviewed parents from 314 households who smoked and had young children.
They were asked what they knew about the effect of tobacco exposure on a child's health, and what they did to minimise that exposure.
Options included opening a window, not smoking in the same room as a child and using a fan or an air freshener.
The scientists then measured levels of cotinine, a by-product of nicotine, in the urine of the children.
Over 80% of parents believed that environmental tobacco smoke is harmful and 90% believed that infants can be protected from it in the home.
Only one in 10 parents did not know any ways to reduce exposure.
More than half tried to reduce exposure in more than one way.
But less than a fifth had banned smoking in the home altogether. This was the only action linked to reduced exposure to tobacco smoke and a significant reduction of cotinine levels.
But less strict measures had no effect, the researchers said, adding that their findings need to be verified in larger studies.