BACKGROUND: Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure at home and fetal SHS exposure during pregnancy are a major cause of disease among children. The aim of this study is quantifying the burden of disease due to SHS exposure in children and in pregnancy in 2006-2017 for the 28 European Union (EU) countries.
METHODS: Exposure to SHS was estimated using a multiple imputation procedure based on the Eurobarometer surveys, and SHS exposure burden was estimated with the comparative risk assessment method using meta-analytical relative risks. Data on deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) were collected from National statistics and from the Global Burden of Disease Study.
RESULTS: Exposure to SHS and its attributable burden stalled in 2006-2017; in pregnant women, SHS exposure was 19.8% in 2006, 19.1% in 2010, and 21.0% in 2017; in children it was 10.1% in 2006, 9.6% in 2010, and 12.1% in 2017. In 2017, 35,633 DALYs among children were attributable to SHS exposure in the EU, mainly due to low birth weight.
CONCLUSIONS: Comprehensive smoking bans up to 2010 contributed to reduce SHS exposure and its burden in children immediately after their implementation; however, SHS exposure still occurs, and in 2017, its burden in children was still relevant.
IMPACT: Exposure to secondhand smoke at home and in pregnancy is a major cause of disease among children. Smoking legislation produced the adoption of voluntary smoking bans in homes; however, secondhand smoke exposure at home still occurs and its burden is substantial. In 2017, the number of deaths and disability-adjusted life years in children attributable to exposure to secondhand smoke in the European Union countries were, respectively, 335 and 35,633. Low birth weight caused by secondhand smoke exposure in pregnancy showed the largest burden. Eastern European Union countries showed the highest burden.