Smokers' Vehicles Contain High Nicotine Concentrations

Study supports legislation banning smoking in motor vehicles when passengers are present

TUESDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Motor vehicles operated by smokers have higher concentrations of nicotine than those found even in restaurants and bars, according to a pilot study published online Aug. 24 in Tobacco Control.

M.R. Jones, of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues placed two airborne nicotine samplers in 22 vehicles used for commuting to and from work -- 17 of them operated by smokers and five by non-smokers -- for a 24-hour period.

Compared to the non-smokers' vehicles -- which had undetectable nicotine levels -- the researchers found that the smokers' vehicles contained concentrations ranging from 5.3 to 25.5 micrograms per cubic meter (median interquartile range, 9.6 micrograms per cubic meter). Their adjusted analysis also showed that each cigarette smoked resulted in a 1.96-fold increase in air nicotine concentrations. These air nicotine concentrations were much higher than those usually found in public and private indoor places, including restaurants and bars.

"The high air nicotine concentrations measured in motor vehicles in this study support the urgent need for smoke-free education campaigns and legislative measures banning smoking in motor vehicles when passengers, especially children, are present," the authors conclude. "This study represents one of the few to quantify nicotine concentrations in cars and, although a pilot study, it has implications for informing larger studies and supporting policies aimed at reducing exposure to secondhand smoke in motor vehicles."

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