About the secondhand smoke data

This page provides general information about the secondhand smoke exposure data and measures developed by MN Environmental Public Health Tracking. For more information about these data, contact MNPH Data Access.

  • The percentage of nonsmoking school-aged youth (in grades 6-12) or nonsmoking adults (18+ years of age) in Minnesota with exposure to secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke.
  • If a measure is going up or down.
  • Some of the settings or locations where secondhand smoke exposure occurs in Minnesota.

A weighted percent is an adjustment of the crude percent (which is just the count divided by sample size or N) and takes into account variables like sampling design and characteristics of survey respondents (e.g. age, sex, race/ethnicity) to make the percentage generalizable to all nonsmoking youth or adults in Minnesota. Sample weighting is done so that unbiased population estimates can be calculated using the results of a survey.

  • To inform the public about the proportion of nonsmokers in Minnesota exposed to secondhand smoke, what settings or locations in which exposure may occur, and disparities in secondhand smoke exposure. 
  • Explore trends in the percentage of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • For program planning and evaluation by state and local partners.
  • Measures at a county level in Minnesota.
  • The number of days that nonsmokers were exposed to secondhand smoke in the past week.
  • Exactly where non-smokers were exposed to secondhand smoke or the geographic location of exposure. For example, the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey includes exposure in a public place, which could include school grounds, stores, parking lots, restaurants, parks, and other places. The Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey asks about exposure in the community, which could be any place other than the home or car.

  • The Minnesota Center for Health Statistics conducts the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey. To learn more about survey methodology (i.e. how participants are chosen), go to Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey.
  • The Minnesota Center for Health Statistics, in conjunction with ClearWay Minnesota, conducts the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey. To learn more about survey methodology (i.e. how participants are chosen), go to the website for the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey (non-MDH website).

A nonsmoker is a person who is not considered to be a current user of any form of combustible tobacco products (a tobacco product that can be smoked). For the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, this includes cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, little cigars, pipes, bidis (small brown cigarettes from India consisting of tobacco wrapped in a leaf tied with a thread), and kreteks (clove cigarettes). For the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey, the forms of combustible tobacco products surveyed include cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. 

Secondhand smoke exposure in the week prior to the survey is self-reported by responding to a variety of questions about being in the same place as someone who was smoking or smelling smoke.

For youth, secondhand smoke exposure is identified as:

  • someone smoking in your home while you were there
  • being in a car with someone who was smoking
  • breathing the smoke from someone smoking in the person's workplace
  • breathing the smoke from someone smoking at your school (buildings, grounds, parking lots)
  • or breathing smoke in an indoor or outdoor public place

For adults, secondhand smoke exposure is identified as someone smoking anywhere inside the person's home, workplace, in the same car, or near the person at any place besides the home, workplace, or car (i.e. "in the community"). 

The Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey is a survey of public school students and thus does not represent all young people, such as those in private schools, juvenile correctional facilities, and treatment centers, or teens who have dropped out of school. Teens who frequently miss school for any reason are under-represented. The survey is a fixed-choice self-report survey and provides no opportunity for youth to write more detailed responses in their own words.

The Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey is a telephone survey and therefore does not include adults who have no telephone. As with most surveys that rely on telephone interviewing, some subgroups, such as specific racial or ethnic minority communities, are likely to be under-represented.

The Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey and Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey are not conducted annually. Currently, data are only available for the following years:

  • Youth Tobacco Survey: 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2017
  • Adult Tobacco Survey: 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2014

Unless otherwise noted, differences between groups described on these pages are statistically significant. A difference, increase, or decrease is indicated as "statistically significant" when the 95% confidence intervals for percentages do not overlap. In statistics, this means that two or more estimates (i.e. percentages) are significantly different at the α=0.05 significance level.

What was the sample size for the youth survey?

Year N*
2000 8,584
2002 8,402
2005 8,220
2008 3,750
2011 2,834
2014 3,672
2017 4,112

*N is the total number of nonsmoking Minnesota youth that responded to the survey questions.


Year N*
2003 6,782
2007 10,571
2010 5,887
2014 7,760

*N is the total number of nonsmoking Minnesota adults that responded to the survey questions.

Go to Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey or Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey for more information, including technical reports and methodology documents.