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Smoking Parents – Second-Hand Smoke in the Car & Home

Subject Matter

Health Canada commissioned Phoenix to conduct a baseline survey on attitudes and behaviour of smoking parents regarding second-hand smoke (SHS) in the car and at home, and to determine the degree to which children are exposed to such smoke in these locations. The findings were used to develop a SHS car/home media campaign focused on reducing exposure of children to SHS in these places as part of Health Canada’s long-term social marketing strategy for tobacco control. A range of related behaviour, attitudinal, value and knowledge issues were explored.


A national telephone survey was conducted with adult smokers who were parents, aged 20-60, with children under the age of 18 living in the home with them (either full-time or part-time). A total of 803 smoker parents were interviewed. Interviews averaged 19 minutes in length. The incidence rate for this study was 7.75% [i.e. percentage of households in Canada that have one or more parents that smoke and child(ren) under 18 living in the home].Questionnaire design was a significant challenge because of the need to accurately assess awareness, behaviours and attitudes. Sequencing was a key issue. Core behavioural questions were put first to obtain an accurate reading of behaviour patterns, followed by attitudinal and awareness/knowledge questions. For this topic, where politically-correct and socially-desirable responses are a potential threat to truthful answers, we tried to limit the extent to which we conveyed information to respondents through the questions in order to maximize the accuracy of their responses. We put key behaviour questions early on in the survey to maximize the accuracy of this information since the social marketing campaign will be targeted to changing the behaviours of Canadians.

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