Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings


Conclusions • Secondhand smoke is still an unfamiliar term and smokers are not fully aware of all the risks/dangers associated with SHS • in particular the type and number of toxins in SHS is alarming to parents/influencers, and therefore has real impact • Lingering/residual toxins are of strong interest as ‘new news’ • this territory helps to dispel myths associated with smoking in the home/car • smokers are concerned that the danger is not just at the point of actually smoking but hours afterwards • need to also communicate that ‘precautions’ do not minimise/eradicate risks associated with SHS (e.g. use of air fresheners/candles may mask the smell but not the toxins, opening door/window doesn’t mean toxins have gone) • however, scepticism exists so hard facts and statistics are required to increase credibility and to encourage consideration of behaviour change • Protecting child’s health is the main reason for stopping smoking in home/car so child protagonist is crucial • Smokers need to be encouraged to move their smoking from inside to outside and overcome the barriers to behaviour change: • habit/laziness: make it appear easy – communicate that is it really just a small change & a big difference • weather: take precautions to deal with bad weather e.g. put up a parasol/canopy, patio heater • relaxation: make it homely outside, communicate that smoking outside can be a more relaxing adult moment away from the kids • convenience: make it inconvenient to smoke in the home e.g. ashtray outside only, no air fresheners/candles in the home to mask the smell • Those who are anti legislation and smoking throughout home need to be handled with care • need to frame behaviour change as a positive choice and not a government dictate • However, it is harder to tackle smoking in the car generally, as this is seen as a real clamp down on personal freedom (some have already stopped smoking in car with children) • communications could explore the scope of encouraging smokers to think about the car as a second home so that the same ‘rules’ apply, and communicate that it’s a more confined space so more dangerous • tangible replacements for cigarettes will be needed here to assist behaviour change Communications Issues • Raise awareness of dangers and risks of SHS - residual/lingering toxins is key as new news (and motivates pro and anti smokefree legislation smoker types ) • his Needs to be accompanied by clear guidance on next steps – position behaviour change as easy and that rewards are aplenty • Information: Hard, rational facts are required as majority are unaware/in denial re. impact of SHS • Tone: Clear and direct – ‘just give me the facts I can make the choice’ • Hard-hitting and serious – not light hearted • Visual device to bring residual toxins to life • Emotive visuals of children to create impact • Avoid focus solely on mothers

Research objectives


The main objectives were to: 1. Explore in-depth attitudes and behaviours in relation to SHS in terms of benefits/drawbacks, imagery, language, perceived dangers, barriers to behaviour change 2. Evaluate existing campaigns to develop new platforms to encourage behaviour change in terms of which messages, tone, imagery, intervention strategies are most motivating



Smokefree South West was launched in 2009. Its stated aims are to work with key partners at a local, regional and national level essentially to reduce the prevalence and uptake of smoking. Response to the 2007 Smokefree legislation has been very positive with almost 100% compliance with the law. However, many smokers continue to smoke in their homes and cars making innocent victims vulnerable to the poisons in their cigarette smoke. Secondhand smoke (SHS) is dangerous to non smoking adults: evidence suggests exposure causes a 25% increased risk of heart disease and 24% increased risk of lung disease. The tracking of a recent SHS TV led campaign in the South West region has confirmed that the majority of smokers know and agree that SHS is dangerous to non smokers and therefore the task now, is not awareness or attitude shift but, to promote a clear and achievable behaviour change.

Quick summary


Research was commissioned to explore barriers and motivations to smokefree homes and cars and to understand the potential for communications in this area. Key conclusions were that protecting child’s health is the main reason for stopping smoking in home/car, and that raising awareness of the dangers and risks of SHS - residual/lingering toxins - is key, as this is new news to most smokers.

Audience Summary






Adults of working age

Social Class


Mainly C2DE




- Small focus groups (x8) - Ethnographic Family Visits (6 respondents only - 2 x children 0-5 years, 2 x 6-12 years, 2 x 13-16 years) - Teledepth interviews

Data collection methodology

Depth interviews
Focus groups

Detailed region


South west England - Exeter, Highbridge (Somerset), Plymouth, Swindon

Fieldwork dates


March 2010

Contact Name

Helen Selby



Senior Research Manager

Agree to publish



Research agency


Report format