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Toward a Smoke-free Harlem: Engaging Families, Agencies, and Community-based Programs


The aim of this collaborative public health study was to engage families, agencies, and programs in reducing secondhand smoke exposure in Central Harlem, New York City. Baseline interviews (n = 657) and focus groups (n = 4) were conducted with adult members of households with children who had asthma and asthma-like symptoms in the Harlem Children’s Zone Asthma Initiative. The interviews concerned the prevalence and determinants of exposure of enrolled children to secondhand smoke. Key findings were that participants: (1) were generally aware of the hazards of secondhand smoke; (2) used strategies to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke in their homes; (3) believed that outdoor pollutants are sometimes just as bad for the health of their children as secondhand smoke; and (4) used smoking to provide stress relief and help diffuse otherwise volatile situations in their homes. The Harlem Smoke-Free Home Campaign was launched in October 2007 based in part on these findings.