Assessment of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in young adolescents following implementation of smoke-free policy in Italy.Forensic Sci Int 2010; 196(1-3):97-100FS
We investigated acute and chronic exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in a cohort of young adolescents using urinary cotinine and hair nicotine testing after recent implementation of Italian smoke free legislation. Study subjects were 372 Italian young adolescents, between 10 and 16 years of age from the principal city of Sicily, Palermo. Urine and hair samples were collected between November 2005 and May 2006, when the legislation to ban smoking in all the enclosed places of employment (including bars, restaurants, pubs) was completely enforced. An exhaustive questionnaire including sociodemographic characteristics and active and passive exposure to cigarette smoking was completed. Urinary cotinine was analyzed by radioimmunoassay and hair nicotine by a validated GC/MS method. Based on urinary cotinine results, 2.1% and 89% of the study participants, respectively, showed non-exposure and low acute exposure to ETS, whereas only 1.6% presented very high exposure or a hidden active smoking habit in the recent past. Hair nicotine disclosed non-exposure and low exposure to ETS in 11.8% and 65.6% of the young adolescents, respectively, taking into consideration a larger time-window. High repeated exposure, suggesting active smoking in some cases was observed in 8.6% of the study subjects. Hair nicotine was inversely related to educational level of the adolescents' parents. Overall, due to the implementation of smoke-free legislation and information campaign against smoking, a significant trend toward low exposure to ETS was observed in this study cohort with no association between exposure to ETS and respiratory illnesses.