About the Environmental Tobacco Smoke Data

This page provides general information about the environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) data and measures developed by MN Environmental Public Health Tracking. For more information about these data, contact MNPH Data Access.

Information on this page:

What do these data tell us?

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

What is a weighted percent?

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.

How can we use these data?

  • To inform the public about the proportion of nonsmokers in Minnesota exposed to ETS, what settings or locations in which exposure may occur, and disparities in ETS exposure. 
  • Explore trends in the percentage of nonsmokers exposed to ETS.
  • For program planning and evaluation by state and local partners.

What can these data not tell us?

  • Measures at a county level in Minnesota.
  • The number of days that nonsmokers were exposed to ETS in the past week.
  • Exactly where non-smokers were exposed to ETS or the geographic location of exposure. For example, the 2014 Youth Tobacco Survey includes exposure in a public place, which could include school grounds, stores, parking lots, restaurants, parks, and other places. The 2014 Adult Tobacco Survey surveyed exposure in the community, which could be any place other than the home or car.

What is the source of the data?

  • 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 the Minnesota Center for Health Statistics webpage for Youth Tobacco Reports.
  • 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).

How are non-smokers identified?

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 2014 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 2014 Adult Tobacco Survey, the forms of combustible tobacco products surveyed include cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. 

How is ETS exposure identified?

ETS 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, ETS exposure is identified as:

  • being in the same room as someone who was smoking (2000-2011 surveys)
  • someone smoking in your home while you were there (2014 survey)
  • being in a car with someone who was smoking
  • breathing the smoke from someone smoking in the person's workplace (2011, 2014 surveys).
  • Additional questions added in 2014 ask about breathing the smoke from someone smoking:
    • at your school (buildings, grounds, parking lots)
    • in an indoor or outdoor public place

For adults, ETS 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"). 

What are the limitations of the data sources?

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

  • Youth Tobacco Survey: 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, and 2014
  • Adult Tobacco Survey: 1999, 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2014 (1999 is not included on MNPH Data Access)

How was statistical significance tested?

Unless otherwise noted, differences between groups described on the ETS 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

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

What was the sample size for the adult survey?

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.

Where can I find more technical information about the data?

For Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey technical reports, go to the Minnesota Center for Health Statistics webpage for Youth Tobacco Reports.

Go to the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey website (non-MDH website) for more information, including technical reports and methodology documents.