Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) is a major threat to public health. Asian countries having the highest smoking prevalence are seriously affected by SHS. The objective of the study was to measure SHS levels in hospitality venues in seven Asian countries and to compare the SHS exposure to the levels in Western countries. The study was carried out in four types of related hospitality venues (restaurant, café, bar/club and entertainment) in China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Real-time measurement of particulate matter of <2.5microm aerodynamic diameter (PM(2.5)) was made during business hour using a handheld laser operated monitor. A total of 168 venues were measured in seven countries. The average indoor PM(2.5) level was 137microg/m(3), ranging from 46microg/m(3) in Malaysia to 207microg/m(3) in India. Bar/club had the highest PM(2.5) level of 191microg/m(3) and restaurants had the lowest PM(2.5) level of 92microg/m(3). The average indoor PM(2.5) level in smoking venues was 156micro/m(3), which was 3.6 times higher than non-smoking venues (43microg/m(3)). Indoor PM(2.5) levels were significantly associated with country, type of venue, smoking density and air exchange rate (p<0.05). In the seven Asian countries, PM(2.5) levels were high due to SHS in public places. The current levels are comparable to the levels in Western countries before the adoption of smoke-free policy. Since Asian country has high prevalence of SHS in public places, there is an urgent need for comprehensive smoke-free regulation in Asian countries.
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