Investigators: Dr Billie Bonevski (CI), Ms Anne Jones, A/Prof Patrick McElduff, A/Prof Chris Paul, Dr Allison Salmon.

Numerous complaints from residents in multi-unit housing about their exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke from neighbours are reported to Action on Smoking on Health (ASH) and Cancer Council NSW. Complaints are often from people who feel trapped because they have to keep doors and windows closed to stop tobacco smoke from infiltrating their homes.

There has been very little Australian data regarding the extent of second-hand smoke in various housing types and the link between second-hand smoke and socioeconomic status. A substantial amount of research evidence has drawn direct links between exposure to second-hand smoke and harm to health for both adults and children. Given smoking rates are much higher among groups of lower economic status who are more likely to be from areas of high-density living, the research project’s aim was to examine the relationships between these factors.

Outcomes resulting from this research:

Findings have been utilised by ASH Australia for advocacy to achieve health policy and legislative change in smoke-free policies for multi-unit housing. This has contributed to changes in NSW legislation with a by-law being introduced restricting smoking in common areas of multi-unit housing.

Bonevski B, Paul C, Jones A, Bisquera A, Regan T. Smoky homes: Gender, socioeconomic and housing disparities in second hand tobacco smoke (SHS) exposure in a large population-based Australian cohort. Prev Med [Internet] 2013 doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.12.024