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Your Environment. Your Health.

Pregnant Women Exposed to Less Secondhand Nicotine After Ban

Scott Kollins, Ph.D.
Duke University
P01ES022831, R21ES014947, R01ES016772, P30ES025128

Pregnant women experienced less secondhand smoke exposure after the passage of a 2009 law banning smoking inside restaurants and bars in North Carolina, according to a new study by NIEHS grantees. Although exposure lowered overall, the study identified racial and socioeconomic disparities among the women exposed to secondhand smoke.

The data comes from 668 women who enrolled in the study between 2005 and 2011. Their secondhand smoke exposure was measured by the presence of cotinine, a biomarker found in blood plasma that indicates nicotine exposure in the previous 48 to 72 hours.

The researchers found that most nonsmoking pregnant women were not exposed to nicotine in the days before having their blood tested for the study. Although some women tested after the passage of the ban still had cotinine in their blood, their average blood levels were lower than those tested before the ban. Being African American, unmarried, and having less education were each associated with increased risk for passive smoke exposure.

According to the authors, the new results indicate that banning smoking in public spaces can reduce passive smoke exposure in nonsmoking pregnant women. The findings are also informative for medical providers who may want to discuss possible prevention efforts with pregnant women who are at higher risk of exposure.

Citation: Schechter JC, Fuemmeler BF, Hoyo C, Murphy SK, Zhang JJ, Kollins SH. 2018. Impact of smoking ban on passive smoke exposure in pregnant non-smokers in the southeastern United States. Int J Environ Res Public Health 15(1):E83.

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