Article Text

Prevalence of invehicle smoking and secondhand smoke exposure in Uruguay


Introduction Protection from secondhand smoke (SHS) is one of the fundamental principles of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. Objective data on SHS exposure in vehicles in South America is scarce. This study aimed to estimate prevalence of smoking inside vehicles.

Methods The point prevalence of smoking in vehicles was observed, and a method for estimating smoking prevalence was piloted.

Results We observed 10 011 vehicles. In 219 (2.2%; 95% CI 1.91 to 2.49) of them, smoking was observed, and in 29.2% of these, another person was exposed to SHS. According to the ‘expansion factor’ we constructed, direct observation detected one of six to one to nine vehicles in which smoking occurred. The observed prevalence of smoking in vehicles (2.2%) could reflect a real prevalence between 12% and 19%. In 29.2% (95% CI 23.6 to 35.5) and 4.6% (95% CI 2.2 to 8.3) of vehicles in which smoking was observed, another adult or a child, respectively, was exposed to SHS.

Conclusions Smoking was estimated to occur in 12%–19% of vehicles, with involuntary exposure in one of three of vehicles observed. These data underscore a need for new public policies to eliminate SHS in vehicles to protect public health.

  • secondhand smoke
  • environment
  • public policy

Statistics from


  • Contributors LL, MB, CP, AP and VN: conceived and designed the study. AP and VN: collected data. MC, AC, FC, JJG and AA: contributed to study design and analysed the data. LL drafted the paper. All authors interpreted the data, discussed results, contributed to the draft and/or revised it critically for important intellectual content, and all authors approved the final version of the paper.

  • Funding Uruguay Cancer Honorary Commission (Comisión Honoraria de Lucha Contra el Cancer) research funds.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics committee, Hospital de Clinicas, Facultad de Medicina, University of the Republic, Uruguay.

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

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.