Banning smoking in the home limits infants' exposure to tobacco smoke. Infant exposure to environmental tobacco smoke increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.
A recent study analyzed the urinary cotinine levels, a byproduct of nicotine, of 314 infants living in smoking households. Participating infants were between 4 weeks and 24 weeks old. Researchers from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, found banning smoking in the home was associated with a small but significant reduction in cotinine levels. Other methods to reduce tobacco smoke in the home, such as no smoking while the infant sleeps or limiting the number of cigarettes, produced no reduction in the cotinine levels and had no effect on exposure of infants.
More than 80 percent of participating parents thought environmental tobacco smoke was harmful and 90 percent believed that their children could be protected from smoke exposure in the home. At least half of the parents reported using more than one measure to reduce infant tobacco smoke exposure in the home. Further research is needed to determine if measures less strict than banning smoking, like opening windows and using fans while smoking will have any effect on infant cotinine levels.