Assessing secondhand smoke exposure with reported measures

Erika Avila-Tang, Jessica L. Elf, K. Michael Cummings, Geoffrey T. Fong, Melbourne F. Hovell, Jonathan D. Klein, Robert Mcmillen, Jonathan P. Winickoff, Jonathan M. Samet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Non-smokers are exposed to tobacco smoke from the burning cigarette and the exhaled smoke from smokers. In spite of decades of development of approaches to assess secondhand smoke exposure (SHSe), there are still unresolved methodological issues. This manuscript summarises the scientific evidence on the use of SHSe reported measures and their methods, objectives, strengths and limitations; and discusses best practices for assessing behaviour leading to SHSe for lifetime and immediate or current SHSe. Recommendations for advancing measurement science of SHSe are provided. Behavioural measures of SHSe commonly rely on selfreports from children and adults. Most commonly, the methodology includes self, proxy and interview-based reporting styles using retrospective recall or diary-style reporting formats. The reporting method used will vary based upon the subject of interest, assessment objectives and cultural context. Appropriately implemented, reported measures of SHSe provide an accurate, timely and cost-effective method for assessing exposure time, location and quantity in a wide variety of populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-163
Number of pages8
JournalTobacco Control
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)


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