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Instant SHS Feedback as a Catalyst for Smoke-Free Homes

Institution: San Diego State University Research Foundation
Investigator(s): Neil Klepeis,
Award Cycle: 2008 (Cycle 17) Grant #: 17IT-0008 Award: $129,917
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Inno Dev & Exp Awards (IDEAS)

Initial Award Abstract
This pilot study aims to develop a tool that protects nonsmokers, including children, from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS). Children are especially vulnerable to SHS-related disease with most of their exposure occurring at home. Since current tobacco control programs have limited reach into smokers' residences, there is a need for effective interventions in homes to protect the health of children and other household members. Because our approach in this study is novel, pilot data are lacking. Hence, with this project we seek to obtain preliminary data and provide the groundwork for future SHS behavioral intervention studies.

For this study, we will develop and evaluate an innovative air-monitoring+feedback technology, called CAMP-RF (Continuous Air Monitoring Package for Residential Feedback), to monitor SHS levels and provide instant feedback to household members. Based on behavior theory, we anticipate that instant SHS feedback will stimulate discussions and change attitudes among persons in the household, and, therefore, it is likely to bring about smoking restrictions, bans, or cessation, because household members will be able to immediately witness how potentially hazardous SHS levels in the home are produced by smoking and directly influenced by human actions. Specifically, this pilot project will evaluate: 1) The technical capabilities and reliability of the CAMP-RF technology in providing feedback on SHS to household members; and 2) Whether the CAMP-RF technology is practical and acceptable for use in private homes to reduce SHS exposure. The work will be accomplished in 2 phases as follows:

Phase I: Pilot Testing in Lab and Field Settings. We will first assemble and test the CAMP-RF technology to determine whether it can automatically provide tailored feedback on SHS to household members over extended time periods. We will build several CAMP-RF packages using readily-available parts, then fine-tune and troubleshoot the packages in the laboratory. Next, we will test the CAMP-RF in several real homes containing smokers to observe how well the CAMP-RF performs in responding to smoking events and in communicating the nature of these events to household members. The SHS feedback will consist of audible and visual alerts from the air monitors (adjusted to the needs of each household), plus user-friendly graphics of SHS levels and educational information on a small wireless laptop computer screen.

Phase II: Focus Groups. We will conduct 3 focus group discussions to explore the feasibility of using the CAMP-RF in private homes. The focus group participants will share their opinions on the CAMP-RF and its use to promote smoke-free homes and reduce SHS exposure. The focus groups will consist of members of the population at risk of SHS exposure in the home.

At the successful conclusion of this exploratory study, we will publish our findings and pursue funding to use the monitoring system in a full SHS behavioral intervention study that seeks to promote home smoking restrictions, smoking bans, or smoking cessation. The large-scale application of an intervention that reduces household SHS exposure, and that is less costly than traditional labor-intensive interventions, could have significant public health impact for reducing tobacco-related diseases.