Introduction Passive smoking is particularly dangerous for children; it increases their risk of developing asthma and triggers asthmatic attacks.
Methods This study sought information regarding parents' smoking habits and their attitude to smoking in front of their children from Mumsnet, an online social networking community for parents with over one million users.
Results 1020 people (97% female, 2% male, 1% not specified) were surveyed online. Of the respondents, 770 had children <5 years, 365 had children 6–10 years, 168 had children 11–15 years while 64 respondents had children ≥16 years. Twelve per cent respondents were current smokers, 42% ex-smokers, 45% never smokers and 1% did not specify. 939 respondents had partners, of whom 17% were current smokers, 37% ex-smokers and 46% never smokers. Of 553 respondents who were current or ex-smokers, 5% confessed to smoking with children present in the same room and 7% to smoking in a car containing children. 290 respondents had smoked in front of their children at some time. Of these, 4% thought that their children may develop a lung condition as a result while 5% thought that passive smoking would not affect their children's health. 17% thought that their children may take up smoking as a result. While only 45% of all respondents would support a smoking ban in all private cars (whether or not a child was present), 86% would support a smoking ban in cars when a minor is present. Among current smokers, 83% would support a smoking ban in private cars with a minor present.
Conclusions This survey shows overwhelming support for a ban on smoking in cars where minors are present, even amongst current smokers. However, sadly it also revealed that 5% parents who had smoked in front of their children believed that this has no impact on that child. Further publicity campaigns are needed to promote both awareness of the risks of passive smoking and the need of legislature to ban smoking in private cars.