BACKGROUND: Although rates of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) are declining in Canada, SHS exposure among non-smoking adolescents remains high. This study aimed to describe frequency, locations, and avoidance behavior related to SHS exposure among adolescent girls in British Columbia, Canada.

METHODS: Data were analyzed from 841 adolescent girls aged 13 to 15 years old who completed an internet-delivered survey as part of a cohort study examining SHS exposure and substance use. Measures assessed demographics, smoking behavior and intentions, frequency and locations of SHS exposure, and avoidance behavior related to SHS.

RESULTS: Excluding their own smoking, 27% of girls reported exposure at least once a week and an additional 17% reported daily or almost daily exposure over the past month. Among girls who reported daily or almost daily exposure, the locations of most frequent levels of high exposure were in the home, at or near school, inside a vehicle, and outdoor public places. Avoidance behavior related to SHS exposure significantly differed by overall SHS exposure in the past month.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite historically low smoking rates, many adolescent girls continue to report regular SHS exposure in multiple locations in British Columbia. Girls with the most frequent exposure were significantly less likely to report habitual avoidance behavior related to SHS compared to those less frequently exposed. This study elucidates settings of high SHS exposure among adolescent girls that could be targeted in future policy interventions. Additionally, future interventions could target adolescent girls who are frequently exposed to SHS and report infrequent avoidance behavior around their SHS exposure.

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Published in BMC Public Health, v. 14, no. 468.

© 2014 Schwartz et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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