Thirdhand smoke and exposure in California hotels: non-smoking rooms fail to protect non-smoking hotel guests from tobacco smoke exposure

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Abstract

Introduction

This study examined tobacco smoke pollution (also known as thirdhand smoke, THS) in hotels with and without complete smoking bans and investigated whether non-smoking guests staying overnight in these hotels were exposed to tobacco smoke pollutants.

Methods

A stratified random sample of hotels with (n=10) and without (n=30) complete smoking bans was examined. Surfaces and air were analysed for tobacco smoke pollutants (ie, nicotine and 3-ethynylpyridine, 3EP). Non-smoking confederates who stayed overnight in guestrooms provided urine and finger wipe samples to determine exposure to nicotine and the tobacco-specific carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone as measured by their metabolites cotinine and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL), respectively.

Findings

Compared with hotels with complete smoking bans, surface nicotine and air 3EP were elevated in non-smoking and smoking rooms of hotels that allowed smoking. Air nicotine levels in smoking rooms were significantly higher than those in non-smoking rooms of hotels with and without complete smoking bans. Hallway surfaces outside of smoking rooms also showed higher levels of nicotine than those outside of non-smoking rooms. Non-smoking confederates staying in hotels without complete smoking bans showed higher levels of finger nicotine and urine cotinine than those staying in hotels with complete smoking bans. Confederates showed significant elevations in urinary NNAL after staying in the 10 most polluted rooms.

Conclusions

Partial smoking bans in hotels do not protect non-smoking guests from exposure to tobacco smoke and tobacco-specific carcinogens. Non-smokers are advised to stay in hotels with complete smoking bans. Existing policies exempting hotels from complete smoking bans are ineffective.

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