Secondhand smoke exposure in public places in Guatemala: Comparison with other Latin American Countries

Joaquin Barnoya, Carlos Mendoza-Montano, Ana Navas-Acien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To measure secondhand smoke levels in workplaces in Guatemala and to compare exposure to levels in other Latin American cities. Methods: Exposure was estimated by passive sampling of vapor phase nicotine using a filter badge. Filters were placed in 1 hospital, 1 school, 2 universities, 1 government building, the airport, and 10 restaurants/bars. In total, 103 filters were deployed (plus 7 duplicates and 10 blanks). Nicotine (μg/m3) was measured by gas chromatography. Medians [interquartile ranges (IQR)] of nicotine concentrations were reported and compared with other Latin American cities. A survey about attitudes for smoke-free workplaces was distributed among employees. Results: Nicotine was detected in most (68%) locations surveyed (including workplaces where smoking is banned). The highest levels were found in bars [median, 4.58 μg/m3 (IQR, 1.71-6.44)] and restaurants [median, 0.56 μg/m3 (IQR, 0.46-0.71)]. Nicotine concentrations in bars and restaurants were 710 and 114 times higher, respectively, compared with hospital concentrations after adjustment for smoking ban signs, type of ventilation, and volume of the area. Support for smoke-free environments was high, except in bar/restaurant and airport workers. Airborne nicotine levels in Guatemala were similar to those found in other Latin American cities. Conclusion: In Guatemala, exposure to secondhand smoke is highly prevalent. Workers in bars and restaurants are disproportionately exposed to secondhand smoke compared with other workers. There is an urgent need for complete smoke-free legislation and for educating workers about the benefits of smoke-free workplaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2730-2735
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Secondhand smoke exposure in public places in Guatemala: Comparison with other Latin American Countries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this