Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke in waterpipe cafés in Barcelona, Spain: An assessment of airborne nicotine and PM2.5.Environ Res. 2020 05; 184:109347.ER
Waterpipe tobacco smoking has grown in popularity worldwide, with the prevalence of use increasing in Spain from 6.2% to 10.8% in the last decade, despite the smoking ban enacted in 2010 for all hospitality premises.
To assess exposure to second-hand smoke from waterpipes based on the concentrations of airborne nicotine and particulate matter ≤2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) in a sample of waterpipe cafés in the city of Barcelona (Spain).
This cross-sectional study included a sample of 20 waterpipe cafés. Airborne nicotine and PM2.5 were sampled for 30 min in each venue using a nicotine sampling device connected by a tube to a pump and a TSI SidePak Personal Aerosol Monitor. Five outdoor control locations were also measured. We computed medians, interquartile ranges (IQRs), and maximum values and compared them according to venues' and sampling characteristics using the Kruskall-Wallis and U-Mann Whitney tests. Nicotine and PM2.5 were correlated by calculating the Spearman-rank correlation coefficient.
The median concentration of nicotine and PM2.5 were 1.15 and 230.50 μg/m3 in waterpipe cafés and 0.03 and 10.00 μg/m3 in control locations (p<0.05 in both cases). The Spearman correlation coefficient between both markers was 0.61 (95% confidence interval: 0.18-0.84). No differences were found in nicotine or PM2.5 concentration according to the venues' and sampling characteristics studied, with the exception of area. After stratifying for area, venues >100 m2, located in a tourist area, with >15 lit waterpipes, >8 waterpipes/100 m2, and a ratio of 2 users per waterpipe or less had significantly higher nicotine concentration.
Despite the current smoking ban, which includes hospitality venues, we found nicotine and PM2.5 levels in Barcelona waterpipe cafés that exceeded the threshold recommended by the World Health Organization. This exposure poses serious risks to the health of both workers and customers and constitutes a non-compliance of the legislation.