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February 22nd, 2020:

The lungs: how they work, what the coronavirus does to them, and the effects of smoking and asthma

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Tobacco smoke exposure reduction strategies – do they work?



Many children experience tobacco smoke exposure (TSE) and parents may take preventive measures to reduce TSE. The study goal is to assess if these strategies are associated with lower cotinine values, an objective biological measure of TSE.


Families admitted to Children’s Hospital Colorado from 2014-2018 who screened positive for TSE were invited to participate in a tobacco smoking cessation/reduction program. Caregivers were consented and asked about demographics, beliefs around smoking, and strategies to reduce TSE. Child urine samples were collected, tested for cotinine levels, and analyzed using geometric means. Bi-variable comparisons and multivariable linear regression were completed using SAS v9.4.


213 children (81.4%) are included in this analysis. The median ages of children and parents were 4 and 32 years. 57% of children were male, 36% were Hispanic, and 55% were white. 56% of parents had at least some college education and 69% had an annual income less than $50K. The median daily cigarettes smoked per day was 10. 88% reported using at least one type of protective measure to prevent TSE and 90% believed they protect other household members from TSE. None of the strategies had a significant relationship with lower cotinine levels on bi-variable or multivariable analyses.


Parental strategies to decrease TSE did not result in lower cotinine levels. Many measures are not evidence-based and do not protect children. Parent’s clothing and homes may create a reservoir for nicotine. Education should focus on exposure elimination and cessation rather than protective measures.