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Study Finds Non-Smoking Hotel Rooms Still Have Smoke Residue

Update Date: May 14, 2013 02:21 PM EDT

Non-smoking hotel rooms might not be as safe and cigarette-free as people would like. According to a new study, non-smoking rooms can be contaminated with cigarette residues because smoke tends to travel throughout hallways and from room to room. This study discovered that even though a room might not have any smoking activity, the residents are still at risk for third-hand smoke. This new discovery suggests that people should start considering finding smoke-free hotels, which have gotten more popular, if they want to minimalize their risk of exposure.  

The study, headed by psychologist Georg Matt from San Diego State University, examined the rooms from 30 hotels with smoking and non-smoking room options in California and 10 smoke-free hotels. The volunteers of the study stayed in a randomly assigned room for one night. The researchers tested the volunteers' hands and urine for evidence of third-hand smoke. They found that people who stayed in non-smoking rooms still managed to have sticky nicotine residues on their hands. Their urine tests also came back positive for nicotine. The rooms in the smoke-free hotels were not exactly nicotine-free either, but the levels of nicotine were a lot lower than they were in non-smoking rooms, and of course, the levels of nicotine were the highest in smoking rooms.

"[Chemicals] don't stay in smoking rooms," Matt explained. "They end up in the hallways and in other rooms, including non-smoking rooms." Smoke also seems to travel a lot via building to building since smoke-free hotels were contaminated with chemical traces from smoking as well.

The researchers wanted to study the effects of smoking in hotels due to the fact that more and more hotels seem to be adopting a smoke-free policy. Companies, such as the Marriott, Westin and Comfort Inn have smoke-free buildings. Aside from that, there are currently four states that require all hotels to be smoke-free with 71 cities and counties throughout the nation enforcing that law as well. Although research has not determined the exact risks of third-hand smoke, if consumers want to be extra safe, they should find and stick to smoke-free hotels whenever possible. It has been known that second-hand smoke could lead to heart attacks, asthma and lung cancer.

The study was published in the journal Tobacco Control

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