Responsibility and resistance : children and young people’s accounts of smoking in the home and car
Following the implementation of the smokefree law in 2006, which formed part of the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005, smoking in enclosed public spaces has been prohibited in Scotland. The law has led to a number of improvements in public health but does not cover homes and cars where children are primarily exposed. Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure is associated with particularly significant risks to child health, yet few studies have explored children’s perspectives on SHS and smoking in the home and car. Comprising a qualitative exploration of the views and experiences of 38, 10- to 15-year-olds of SHS in the home and car, this thesis begins to address this gap. It addresses the nature and extent of children’s involvement in negotiating smoking restrictions, compares the understandings, experiences and involvement among participants living in communities of contrasting socioeconomic profiles and considers the implications for health promotion interventions aimed at reducing children’s exposure to SHS in the home and car. Informed by a Childhood Studies perspective, the study focuses, both in methods and content, on the voices and agency of the participants. Recruited from two Edinburgh communities with contrasting socioeconomic profiles, the participants were interviewed either individually, in pairs or in small focus groups about their understandings of SHS, smoking restrictions in their homes and cars and their role in negotiating them. Home floor plans constructed by the participants were used to prompt discussion and also served to identify spatial and temporal home smoking restrictions. Both discursive and thematic techniques were used in analysis. The thesis details the participants’ overt and covert strategies to resist family members’ smoking, demonstrating the active roles that participants describe in their accounts. While acknowledging SHS as a health risk and using an embodied language of disgust to describe it, the participants’ main concern was for their smoking family members’ health, rather than their own. Many participants also challenged the stigma surrounding smoking parents by detailing the ways in which their parents restricted where, how much and with whom they smoked. Parents were described as especially careful in protecting small children from SHS. While most participants described such protective practices, those from the disadvantaged area reported less stringent smoking restrictions that were more challenging to negotiate. Participants’ resistant (to smoking) and defensive (of parents who smoke) accounts may stem from the growing stigma associated with smoking, particularly smoking in the presence of children. Such findings highlight the importance of a sensitive and asset based public health response that acknowledges parents’ attempts to protect their children from SHS and recognises the potential of the active role of children in family negotiations around smoking in the home and car.