Assessing progress in protecting non-smokers from secondhand smoke



Semple S, Mueller W, Leyland AH, Gray L & Cherrie JW (2019) Assessing progress in protecting non-smokers from secondhand smoke. Tobacco Control, 28 (6), pp. 692-695.

Objective To examine trends in population exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke (SHS) and consider two exposure metrics as appropriate targets for tobacco control policymakers. Design Comparison of adult non-smokers’ salivary cotinine data available from eleven Scottish Health Surveys between 1998 and 2016. Methods The proportions of non-smoking adults who had measurable levels of cotinine in their saliva were calculated for the eleven time points. The Geometric Mean (GM) concentrations of cotinine levels were calculated using Tobit regression. Changes in both parameters were assessed for the whole period and also for the years since implementation of smoke-free legislation in Scotland in 2006. Results Salivary cotinine expressed as a GM fell from 0.464 ng/ml (95% CI 0.444-0.486 ng/ml) in 1998 to 0.013 ng/ml (95% CI 0.009-0.020 ng/ml) in 2016: a reduction of 97.2%. The percentage of non-smoking adults who had no measurable cotinine in their saliva increased by nearly six-fold between 1998 (12.5% [95% CI 11.5%-13.6%]) and 2016 (81.6% [95% CI 78.6%-84.6%]). Reductions in population exposure to SHS have continued even after smoke-free legislation in 2006. Conclusions Scotland has witnessed a dramatic reduction in SHS exposure in the past two decades but there are still nearly one in five non-smoking adults who have measurable exposure to SHS on any given day. Tobacco control strategies globally should consider the use of both the proportion of non-smoking adults with undetectable salivary cotinine and the GM as targets to encourage policies that achieve a smoke-free future.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke; Salivary cotinine; Smoke-free; Public health; Trends

Tobacco Control: Volume 28, Issue 6

FundersUniversity of Aberdeen
Publication date30/11/2019
Publication date online29/08/2018
Date accepted by journal14/08/2018

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Professor Sean Semple

Professor Sean Semple

Professor, Institute for Social Marketing