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A cross country comparison of exposure to secondhand smoke among youth
  1. The GTSS Collaborative Group
  1. Correspondence to:
 Charles W Warren
 PhD, Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, MS-K50, Atlanta GA 30341-3717, USA; wcw1{at}


Secondhand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke is a combination of smoke from a burning cigarette and exhaled smoke from a smoker. This substance is an involuntarily inhaled mix of compounds that causes or contributes to a wide range of adverse health effects, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory infections, adverse reproductive effects, and asthma. This paper presents findings from Global Youth Tobacco Surveys (GYTS) conducted in 132 countries between 1999 and 2005. GYTS data indicate that a large proportion of students in every World Health Organization Region are exposed to secondhand smoke at home (43.9%) and in public places (55.8%), and many have parents (46.5%) or best friends who smoke (17.9%). GYTS data have shown widespread and strong support among students for bans on smoking in public areas all over the world (76.1%). Countries should engage this positive public health attitude among youth to promote and enforce policies for smoke-free public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

  • CDC, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • CHD, coronary heart disease
  • GYTS, Global Youth Tobacco Survey
  • SHS, secondhand smoke
  • WHO, World Health Organization
  • secondhand smoke
  • youth
  • school
  • surveillance

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  • * Notable countries, by WHO Region, that have not completed the GYTS include Canada (Region of the Americas), most countries in Western Europe (European Region), and Australia, Japan, and New Zealand (Western Pacific Region).

  • The core GYTS questionnaire in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish can be found at:

  • Competing interests: none declared