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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: To assess secondhand smoke concentrations in traditional and fast-food restaurants in the capital cities of Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay in conjunction with the Smoke-Free Americas Initiative.
Methods: Using a common protocol in all countries, air nicotine concentration was measured in seven restaurants per country, with at least one of them being a fast-food establishment. A total of 121 sampling devices were placed for seven days, 80 in traditional restaurants and 41 in fast-food restaurants.
Results: Nicotine was detected in 98% of the restaurants. The median nicotine concentration in traditional restaurants was 0.83 µg/m3 (interquartile range 0.39 – 2.20) and in fast-food restaurants it was 0.66 µg/m3 (interquartile range 0.11 – 1.97). Small differences were observed across countries. The median nicotine concentration in places with no smoking policy was 1.15 µg/m3 (interquartile range 0.01 – 6.10, N=54). In places with partial smoking restrictions the concentration of nicotine was 0.85 µg/m3 (interquartile range 0.10 – 6.49, N=59) and in places with smoking bans it was 0.07 µg/m3 (interquartile range below limit of detection – 0.68, N=8). Restaurants are frequently excluded from legislative efforts to ban smoking. While voluntary smoke-free policies may be difficult to occur in traditional restaurants, fast-food restaurants can take worlwide initiatives in implementing smoke-free policies that protect workers and customers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure.