Introduction: Exposure to secondhand smoke is hazardous and can cause cancer, coronary heart disease, and birth defects. New York City (NYC) and other jurisdictions have established smoke-free air laws in the past 10-15 years. Methods: NYC Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES) 2013-2014 was a population-based survey of NYC residents, aged 20 years and older, in which biospecimens were collected and cotinine levels were measured. Secondhand smoke exposure was assessed by demographics and risk factors and compared with that from NYC HANES 2004 and national HANES. Results: More than a third (37.1%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 33.3%-41.2%) of nonsmoking adult New Yorkers were exposed to secondhand smoke, defined as a cotinine level of 0.05-10ng/mL. This was significantly lower than in 2004 NYC HANES, when 56.7% (95% CI = 53.6%-59.7%) of nonsmokers were exposed to secondhand smoke, but was greater than the proportion of adults exposed nationwide, as measured by national HANES (24.4%, 95% CI = 22.0%-26.9% in 2011-2012). Men, non-Hispanic blacks, adults aged 20-39, those with less education, and those living in high-poverty neighborhoods were more likely to be exposed. Conclusions: There has been a large decrease in secondhand smoke exposure in NYC, although disparities persist. The decrease may be the result of successful policies to limit exposure to secondhand smoke in public places and of smokers smoking fewer cigarettes per day. Yet NYC residents still experience more secondhand smoke exposure than US residents overall. Possible explanations include multiunit housing, greater population density, and pedestrian exposure. Implications: Measuring exposure to secondhand smoke can be difficult, and few studies have monitored changes over time. This study uses serum cotinine, a nicotine metabolite, from a local population-based examination survey, the NYC HANES 2013-2014, to examine exposure to secondhand smoke in an urban area that has implemented stringent antismoking laws. Comparison with NYC HANES conducted 10 years ago allows for an assessment of changes in the last decade in the context of municipal tobacco control policies. Results may be helpful to jurisdictions considering implementing similar tobacco control policies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health