Protection projects include an exploratory study of the physical and social exposure to smoking by adolescents and their impact on behaviour, a literature synthesis of the health effects of exposure to second smoke in outdoor settings and the impacts of outdoor smoking bans, a review of the evidence related to thirdhand smoke, and a study looking at exposure and policies in home environments.

Additional studies reach across the three pillars of tobacco control to model the impact of policy and program measures including those related to protection.

Current Protection Projects

Outdoor Exposure to Secondhand Smoke: Health Effects and Economic Costs

Focus Areas: Exposure, Health Effects, Economics

This study reviews the literature on health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke in outdoor settings (i.e. patios, setbacks from entrances and windows, parks and playgrounds, hospital grounds etc.), and the economic costs and impacts associated with outdoor smoking bans.

Youth Social and Physical Exposure to Tobacco Use (EMA): Pilot Project

Focus Areas: Youth, Social Exposure

It is increasingly recognized that the more young people see smoking (social exposure), the more likely they are to think that it is acceptable to smoke, especially for those who may be more receptive to taking up smoking. However, there is limited information about how much, where and when youth see smoking in their daily lives. OTRU is interested in investigating how youth experience smoking and the impact of this ‘social exposure’ on their perspectives about smoking and smoking behaviour.

We recently pilot tested the feasibility of using a mobile smartphone application with GPS (Global Positioning System) technology to collect real-life data on youth social exposure to tobacco use, including the smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco products, the promotion of tobacco products (online and media), and the exchange of tobacco products (sharing, gifting, purchasing). The findings are being used to leverage funding for a larger study on social exposure to tobacco use among susceptible and non-susceptible youth.

Putting Thirdhand Smoke on the Policy Agenda: An Expert Panel

Areas of Focus: Thirdhand Smoke, Policies

Thirdhand smoke (THS) is tobacco smoke contamination that remains after a cigarette is extinguished. Its role in the broader context of tobacco control efforts is still unknown. An international, multidisciplinary expert panel met to review available scientific evidence on THS. Dissemination of the outcomes to knowledge users in science, medicine, public health and policy is underway.

Smoke-Free Affordable Housing in Canada: Promoting Health and Health Equity

Focus Areas: Homes, Multi-Unit Dwellings, Exposure

Smoke-free policies have been gaining momentum in recent years in North America. While there are some smoke-free policies in multi-unit dwellings across Canada, few housing authorities have implemented such policies in their social housing. OTRU recently conducted a research project to investigate the impact of Canadian residential tenancy legislation and policy approaches on the implementation of smoke-free policies in affordable housing, and the experiences and behaviours of residents.

RECIG: Research on E-Cigarettes

Focus Areas: Electronic Cigarettes

The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU), in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), has recently undertaken a multi-component research study of e-cigarettes (RECIG) that will inform the current evidence base, and future provincial policy and legislation. The study will: determine the prevalence of e-cigarette use, particularly among youth, and examine patterns of change over time; review and assess research on health effects and related exposures to nicotine, aerosols and contaminants; explore use of e-cigarettes to reduce, replace or stop smoking traditional cigarettes; and examine the role of e-cigarettes as a “gateway” to uptake of traditional cigarettes.

Modelling Interventions and Strategy Effects

Focus Areas: Tobacco Control Indicators, Modelling

This cross cutting project continues to refine the Ontario SimSmoke model in order to improve its validity, accuracy and usefulness as a tool to inform policy and program decision making in the province.

Knowledge and Evaluation Support

OTRU responds to the knowledge needs, evaluation and research requests from Ontario’s Public Health Units (PHUs), Tobacco Control Area Networks (TCANs), and other tobacco Transfer Payment Agencies (TPAs) across the three pillars of tobacco control.