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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: 1) to evaluate exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) in a midsize town in Argentina and 2) to compare the results with the capital city.
Methods: The study was conducted in San Salvador de Jujuy, a town of 600.000 inhabitants, in 2004. Exposure was estimated by passive sampling of vapor-phase nicotine using 26 filter badges following a standardized protocol. Nicotine concentration (µg/m3) was measured by gas-chromatography. Concentrations were compared to 67 samples collected in Buenos Aires (2,7000,000 inhabitants) in 2003.
Results: Highest concentrations were found in cyber centers (n=3, median=8.42) and restaurants (n=7, median 5.28µg/m3), followed by public offices (n=4, median 2.13 µg/m3), schools (n=7, median 0.71 µg/m3) and the hospital (n=5, median 0.19 µg/m3). Compared to the Buenos Aires sample nicotine concentrations were similar for schools (p=0.50) and public office (p=0.16), lower for the hospital (p<0.001) and slightly higher for restaurants (p=0.05). Nicotine concentration in cyber centers were similar to those found in adult dance halls and bars in Buenos Aires.
Conclusions: Argentina has the highest levels of SHS exposure in Latin America, a significant risk factor for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Close to a quarter of the population in the country lives in towns of < 1 million. Previous SHS studies in the Americas were conducted in larger urban areas and did not include cyber centers, where minors find access for game playing at extremely low costs. The study highlights the need for tobacco control in mid-to-low size towns, and a particular need for the protection of children.