Developing a smoke free homes initiative in Kerala, India

Mimi Nichter, Sreedevi Padmajam, Mark Nichter, P. Sairu, S. Aswathy, G. K. Mini, V. C. Bindu, A. S. Pradeepkumar, K. R. Thankappan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Results of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in Kerala, India found that 42 % of adults were exposed to second hand smoke (SHS) inside the home. Formative research carried out in rural Kerala suggests that exposure may be much higher. Numerous studies have called for research and intervention on SHS exposure among women and children as an important component of maternal and child health activities. Methods: Community-based participatory research was carried out in Kerala. First, a survey was conducted to assess prevalence of SHS exposure in households. Next, a proof of concept study was conducted to develop and test the feasibility of a community-wide smoke free homes initiative. Educational materials were developed and pretested in focus groups. After feasibility was established, pilot studies were implemented in two other communities. Post intervention, surveys were conducted as a means of assessing changes in community support. Results: At baseline, between 70 and 80 % of male smokers regularly smoked inside the home. Over 80 % of women had asked their husband not to do so. Most women felt powerless to change their husband's behavior. When women were asked about supporting a smoke free homes intervention, 88 % expressed support for the idea, but many expressed doubt that their husbands would comply. Educational meetings were held to discuss the harms of second hand smoke. Community leaders signed a declaration that their community was part of the smoke free homes initiative. Six months post intervention a survey was conducted in these communities; between 34 and 59 % of men who smoked no longer smoked in their home. Conclusions: The smoke free homes initiative is based on the principle of collective efficacy. Recognizing the difficulty for individual women to effect change in their household, the movement establishes a smoke free community mandate. Based on evaluation data from two pilot studies, we can project that between a 30 and 60 % reduction of smoking in the home may be achieved, the effect size determined by how well the smoke free home steps are implemented, the characteristics of the community, and the motivation of community level facilitators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number480
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 12 2015


  • Community-based participatory research
  • India
  • Secondhand smoke exposure
  • Smoke free homes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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