Tob Control doi:10.1136/tc.2010.042275
  • Research paper

Two-year impact of the Spanish smoking law on exposure to secondhand smoke: evidence of the failure of the ‘Spanish model’

  1. Esteve Fernández6,7 on behalf of the Spanish Smoking Law Evaluation Group*
  1. 1Public Health Agency of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2CIBER de Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Spain
  3. 3Institut d'Investigació Biomèdic (IIB Sant Pau), Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4Ajuntament de Terrassa, Spain
  5. 5Xunta de Galicia, Spain
  6. 6Institut Català d′Oncologia‐IDIBELL, L'Hospitalet, Spain
  7. 7Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maria J Lopez, Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, PL Lesseps 1, Barcelona 08023, Spain; mjlopez{at}
  1. Contributors The authors of the paper directly participated in the planning, analysis and writing of the paper, and have approved the final version here submitted.

  • Received 6 December 2010
  • Accepted 2 May 2011
  • Published Online First 9 June 2011


Objective Studies evaluating the long-term impact of smoking laws on secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure using airborne markers are scarce. This study aimed to assess the long-term impact of the Spanish smoking law on SHS levels, using a specific and objective marker.

Methods Follow-up study, measuring vapour-phase nicotine levels before the implementation of the law and 6, 12 and 24 months after the initial assessment. A total of 443 samples were taken at baseline in eight different regions in offices in the public administration, private sector, universities and hospitality venues.

Results Two years after the law was implemented, the nicotine concentration decreased by a minimum of 60% in public administration, university and private sector offices, as well as in venues where smoking was totally banned. However, nicotine levels significantly increased by 40% in hospitality venues allowing smoking. No significant differences were found in hospitality venues with areas for smokers and non-smokers or in pubs and discotheques.

Conclusions Two years after the smoking law came into force, levels of SHS exposure in the workplace were significantly lower than before the law was implemented. Importantly, however, SHS levels were even higher than before the law was implemented in venues still allowing smoking. The data obtained in this study clearly show that the ‘Spanish model’ is not protecting the health of hospitality workers and that a complete ban is required. Furthermore, this study highlights the importance of long-term monitoring of compliance with smoking laws over time.


  • * Spanish Smoking Law Evaluation Group Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain): Carles Ariza, María José López, Manel Nebot, Francesca Sánchez-Martínez, Francesc Centrich, Glòria Muñoz, Eulàlia Serrahima, Institut Català d'Oncologia (Hospitalet, Spain): Esteve Fernández, Marcela Fu, Jose M Martínez-Sánchez, Anna Martín, Josep Maria Borràs, Stephanie Rania, Jorge Twose, Anna Schiaffino; Generalitat de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain): Esteve Saltó, Araceli Valverde, Meia Faixedas, Francesc Abella, Enric Rovira; Xunta de Galicia (Santiago, Spain) Mónica Pérez-Ríos, Begoña Alonso, María Isolina Santiago, María Jesús García, Sergio Veiga; Govern de les Illes Balears (Mallorca, Spain): Arturo López, Elena Tejera, Magdalena Borrás, José A Ayensa, Ernesto Pérez; Generalitat Valenciana (Valencia, Spain): Francisco Carrión, Pepa Pont, José A Lluch; Gobierno de Cantabria: M Eugenia López, Sonia Álvarez, M Emma del Castillo, Fernando Martín, Blanca M Benito; Hospital San Pedro de Alcántara de Cáceres (Extremadura, Spain): Juan Antonio Riesco; Comunidad de Madrid (Madrid, Spain): Isabel Marta, Almudena García, Carmen Estrada,Virgilio Blanco; Gobierno de La Rioja (Logroño, Spain): Ana Esteban, M Ángeles Hessel; Universidade do Minho (Minho, Portugal): José Precioso; Acadèmia de Ciències Mèdiques d'Andorra (Andorra la Vella, Andorra): Margarida Coll.

  • Funding This study was partially funded by the Ministry of Health Instituto de Salud Carlos III (FIS PI052293 and RTICC RD06/0020/0089), and supported by the Department of Health of each participating autonomous region. Funding from the Department of Universities and Research, Government of Catalonia (AGAUR SGR 2009-1345, SGR 2009-42 and 2009 SGR 192) is also acknowledged.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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