-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- People who opt for
nonsmoking rooms in hotels with a partial smoking ban are not fully
protected from harmful exposure to so-called "thirdhand" smoke,
according to a new study.
Smoking in hotels leaves a trail of tobacco pollution in the air
and on surfaces in both smoking and nonsmoking rooms, researchers
Georg Matt and colleagues at San Diego State University found. New
hotels should enforce total smoking bans to protect their guests
and employees, said the study authors, who also advised people to
avoid hotels that allow smoking in designated areas.
"Our findings demonstrate that some nonsmoking guest rooms in smoking hotels are as polluted with [third-hand smoke] as are some smoking rooms," the researchers wrote. "Moreover, nonsmoking guests staying in smoking rooms may be exposed to tobacco smoke pollutants at levels found among nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke."
The study involved 40 budget-priced to mid-range hotels in San
Diego. Of these hotels, 10 had complete smoking bans. Thirty hotels
had partial smoking bans with designated nonsmoking rooms. The
findings appeared online May 13 in the journal
The researchers examined the hotel rooms' surfaces and air
quality for evidence of nicotine and 3EP, a marker of tobacco
smoke. Urine and finger wipe samples were also taken from
nonsmokers who spent the night at any of the hotels to assess their
exposure to nicotine and a carcinogen found in tobacco smoke known
Nonsmoking rooms in hotels with partial smoking bans had
evidence of air pollution. These designated nonsmoking rooms had
levels of surface nicotine that were more than twice as high as
rooms in hotels with total smoking bans, according to a journal
These nonsmoking rooms had air levels of 3EP that were more than
seven times as high as the rooms in hotels that did not permit any
In rooms designated as smoking areas, the researchers found that
surface and air nicotine levels were 35 and 22 times higher than
the rooms in hotels that had total smoking bans. The air nicotine
levels in smoking rooms were also much higher than nonsmoking
Even the nonsmoking rooms of hotels with partial smoking bans
had air nicotine levels that were 40 percent higher than in rooms
in hotels with total smoking bans.
The effects of smoking were not confined to the hotel rooms. The
study also showed that hallway surfaces outside of smoking rooms
had higher nicotine levels than the surfaces outside nonsmoking
The samples taken from nonsmokers who stayed in hotels with
partial smoking bans had higher levels of nicotine and NKK than
those staying in nonsmoking hotels.
"Guests who wish to protect themselves from exposure to tobacco smoke should avoid hotels that permit smoking and instead stay in completely smoke-free hotels," the researchers wrote.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to
learn more about
tobacco use and smoke-free policies.
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