Although public understanding of the role of second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure in some diseases increased significantly between 1999 and 2006, in the only known study to examine risk perception of SHS on ear infections in children, less than half (46%) of 1,000 adults surveyed still understand the role for this vulnerable population. Chronic ear infections in children due to SHS exposure may lead to long-term consequences, including hearing loss.
"There is a lack of awareness among both smokers and non-smokers of the risk SHS exposure poses for ear infections among children," says lead author Bernie Lonergan, PhD.
New research conducted by Dr. Lonergan and colleagues in Ireland and published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research also finds smokers are still significantly less likely than non-smokers to identify SHS exposure as a risk for asthma, lung cancer, heart diseases, and bronchitis.
Even though Ireland has advanced tobacco control measures, risk perception among smokers was lower than among non-smokers. Encouragingly, the disparity in risk perception of SHS between smokers and non-smokers narrowed from 1999 to 2006, with most notable differences seen for heart disease, lung cancer, and bronchitis. There was no change in disparity of 7 percentage points between smokers and non-smokers from 1999 to 2006 in the risk perception of ear infections.
Research also indicates that females, and those aged between 50 to 64 years, significantly increased their risk perception of SHS exposure posed to children from 1999 to 2006. No other significant differences by sub-groups from 1999 to 2006 were noted.