Think you're saving yourself from cigarette smoke by booking a non-smoking hotel room? Think again.
A new study in the journal Tobacco Control shows evidence that "thirdhand smoke" -- which is air that's been polluted by tobacco smoke -- is present in both smoking and non-smoking rooms.
"Partial smoking bans in hotels do not protect non-smoking guests from exposure to tobacco smoke and tobacco-specific carcinogens," San Diego State University researchers wrote in the study. "Non-smokers are advised to stay in hotels with complete smoking bans. Existing policies exempting hotels from complete smoking bans are ineffective."
The study included surface and air samples from 10 hotels with complete smoking bans and 30 hotels with partial smoking bans (where some rooms are designated nonsmoking rooms, while others are designated smoking rooms). Researchers analyzed the samples for pollutants, including nicotine and 3-ethynylpyridine (known as 3EP). Researchers had study participants who stayed in these rooms give finger wipe and urine samples so that they could detect any potential cigarette smoke-related chemicals there, too.
Researchers found higher levels of the nicotine and 3EP pollutants in the air and surface samples taken from hotel rooms with partial smoking bans, compared with rooms with complete smoking bans. Plus, people who stayed in the partial-smoking-ban hotel rooms had higher cigarette pollutant levels on their fingers and in their urine than those staying in the rooms where hotels didn't allow any smoking.