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Partial Smoking Bans In Hotels Don’t Protect Guests From Dangers Of Tobacco

Aired 5/16/13 on KPBS News.

Non-smoking rooms in hotels that have a partial smoking ban don't protect people from tobacco smoke, according to a new study from San Diego State University.

— Hotels that have a mixture of smoking and non-smoking rooms don't adequately protect people from the dangers of tobacco. That's the conclusion of a new San Diego State University study published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Bags of cigarettes picked up in San Diego city parks as part of SAY San Diego's Live and Play Smoke Free Project.  The group collected 42,757 butts in 24 parks over two months in 2008 and 50,347 in 2009.  The City of San Diego passed a smoking ban in city parks and beaches in 2006.

Above: Bags of cigarettes picked up in San Diego city parks as part of SAY San Diego's Live and Play Smoke Free Project. The group collected 42,757 butts in 24 parks over two months in 2008 and 50,347 in 2009. The City of San Diego passed a smoking ban in city parks and beaches in 2006.

Researchers took air quality readings and tested surfaces for evidence of tobacco smoke in a random sample of San Diego hotel rooms. Ten hotels had complete smoking bans while 30 others had some dedicated non-smoking rooms.

Compared with hotels that prohibit smoking, hotels with only partial bans had higher surface and air nicotine levels. That was true even in the non-smoking rooms in hotels with a partial ban.

Only five states — Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin — require all motel and hotel rooms to be smoke free. Four cities in California, including Santa Monica, have such a law.

Researchers say guests who want to avoid tobacco exposure should stay only in smoke-free hotels.

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