Maryland's Tobacco Resource Center - Linking Professionals to Best Practices

Perceptions of the Dangers of Second Hand Smoke among Middle and High School Children


A new article published by the Journal for Tobacco Induced Diseases found that in the United States, approximately 75% of middle and high school students perceived that second hand smoke (SHS) causes at least some harm. There were some gender and ethnic differences in perception, such as lower perceived risk of SHS among boys and non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska natives. Perceived risk was also lower among those students living with a tobacco user and among current tobacco users. No grade level differences were found. This study suggests a need for improved youth and adult education on the hazards of SHS as well as the expansion of smoke free environments. These are associated with increased positive attitudes about the elimination of SHS exposure and decreased likelihood of youth living in these environments becoming established smokers.