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Journal of Addiction
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 160486, 7 pages
Research Article

Everyday Prospective Memory and Executive Function Deficits Associated with Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke

Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR), Division of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK

Received 24 April 2012; Revised 22 August 2012; Accepted 22 August 2012

Academic Editor: Jennifer B. Unger

Copyright © 2013 Thomas M. Heffernan and Terence S. O'Neill. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study explored whether exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) has a detrimental impact upon everyday memory in two groups of non-smokers; one which reported regular exposure to SHS and one that reported never having been exposed to SHS. Thirty-four non-smokers who reported having been regularly exposed to SHS (SHS group) and 34 non-smokers who reported never having been exposed to SHS (non-SHS group) were compared on self-reports of prospective memory (PM: remembering future intentions and/or activities) and executive function (EF: those processes involved in attention, multitasking and decision-making). The Prospective and Retrospective Memory Questionnaire (PRMQ) assessed everyday PM lapses; the Executive Function Questionnaire (EFQ) assessed self-reported problems in EF; a drug-use questionnaire and a mood questionnaire were also administered. Two univariate ANCOVAs were applied to the PM and EF data, controlling for between-group differences in age, weekly alcohol use, anxiety and depression scores, and self-reported retrospective memory scores. The SHS group reported significantly more lapses on the PRMQ and more deficits on the EFQ than the non-SHS group. These findings provide new insights into PM and EF deficits associated with prolonged exposure to SHS in a group of non-smokers. Possible explanations and suggestions for future research are also considered.