Tobacco use in children’s homes: Negotiating policy and practice
Lisa Huddlestone, Catherine Pritchard and Elena Ratschen
Lisa Huddlestone Research Associate, Division of Epidemiology & Public Health, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Nottingham
Rates of tobacco use among residentially accommodated looked-after children (LAC) are substantially higher than in the general youth population. Despite the implementation of smokefree policies by local authorities and a statutory requirement to promote the health and well-being of LAC in the UK, little is known of how tobacco use is managed and addressed within residential units.
We present findings from a mixed-methods study that aimed to examine tobacco use, its impacts, and practice to discourage smoking initiation and address the use of tobacco within children’s homes. Methods comprised a survey of residential care officers in 15 local authority-operated residential units and semi-structured face-to-face interviews with residential carers in three local authority-operated children’s homes in the East Midlands. Survey data were descriptively analysed and narrative data were analysed using thematic framework analysis.
Forty-two care officers (18% response rate) completed the survey, and 14 participated in the interviews. Despite reporting a substantial awareness of smokefree policies, a lack of adherence and enforcement became apparent, and levels of reported training in relation to smoking were low (21%). Potential problems relating to wider tobacco related harms, such as exploitative relationships; a reliance on tacit knowledge; and pessimistic attitudes towards LAC quitting smoking were indicated. The need for the development of comprehensive strategies to promote adherence to and enforcement of local smokefree policy, and to ensure appropriate to promote adherence to and enforcement of local smokefree policy, and to ensure appropriate support pathways are in place.
Source of funding: UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies PhD Studentship