Enabling smoke-free interventions

Posted on 25 July 2019

Research led by York’s Department of Health Sciences will explore how school-based ‘Smoke-free Intervention’ classes could improve the lives of children in Bangladesh and Pakistan at risk of breathing in second-hand cigarette and biri smoke.


Globally, a third of second-hand smoke-related deaths are among children.

The £1.2m project will be led by Professor Kamran Siddiqi in collaboration with the Universities of Edinburgh and Leeds; Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan; and the ARK Foundation in Bangladesh.

The research builds on a successful pilot looking at the concept of encouraging children to raise the matter of restricting smoking in the home with their families, and thus reducing their exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS).

SHS is a major health hazard throughout the world and children are particularly at risk, accounting for almost a third of deaths from exposure to it. As well as increasing their risk of lung diseases such as asthma, chest infection and lung cancer, it can also affect their academic potential, and increases the risk of children taking up smoking themselves.

In recent years the University of York has worked on a pilot scheme with schools, parents and children to develop the ‘Smoke-free Intervention’ (SFI). The SFI is a mix of school-based lessons, activities and take-home resources designed to increase children’s knowledge of the dangers of SHS, build their confidence in raising the issue with parents and enable them to agree with their families ways to make their homes smoke-free.

Priority

Professor Siddiqi said: "SHS is a major public health problem and a priority for policy makers in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Over several years we’ve established collaborations with schools, local communities and policy makers and we‘ll now examine how effective the SFI is in reducing children's exposure to SHS in homes. We are also interested in finding out if SFI can improve children's lung health, academic performance, general quality of life, and reduce their health service use."

"The majority of children in Bangladesh and Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke, I’m delighted that with this new funding my team will be able to test a school-based intervention that could enable children to protect themselves from second-hand cigarette smoke."

Collaboratively

The research, which is to be funded collaboratively by a Joint Health Trials Scheme with the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research and the Wellcome Trust, will be carried out in 66 schools, totalling 2,636 children aged between nine and 12 years of age.