Impact of the Spanish smoke-free legislation on adult, non-smoker exposure to secondhand smoke: cross-sectional surveys before (2004) and after (2012) legislation

PLoS One. 2014 Feb 27;9(2):e89430. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089430. eCollection 2014.


Background: In 2006, Spain implemented a national smoke-free legislation that prohibited smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces (except in hospitality venues). In 2011, it was extended to all hospitality venues and selected outdoor areas (hospital campuses, educational centers, and playgrounds). The objective of the study is to evaluate changes in exposure to secondhand smoke among the adult non-smoking population before the first law (2004-05) and after the second law (2011-12).

Methods: Repeated cross-sectional survey (2004-2005 and 2011-2012) of a representative sample of the adult (≥ 16 years) non-smoking population in Barcelona, Spain. We assess self-reported exposure to secondhand smoke (at home, the workplace, during leisure time, and in public/private transportation vehicles) and salivary cotinine concentration.

Results: Overall, the self-reported exposure to secondhand smoke fell from 75.7% (95%CI: 72.6 to 78.8) in 2004-05 to 56.7% (95%CI: 53.4 to 60.0) in 2011-12. Self-reported exposure decreased from 32.5% to 27.6% (-15.1%, p<0.05) in the home, from 42.9% to 37.5% (-12.6%, p=0.11) at work/education venues, from 61.3% to 38.9% (-36.5%, p<0.001) during leisure time, and from 12.3% to 3.7% (-69.9%, p<0.001) in public transportation vehicles. Overall, the geometric mean of the salivary cotinine concentration in adult non-smokers fell by 87.2%, from 0.93 ng/mL at baseline to 0.12 ng/mL after legislation (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Secondhand smoke exposure among non-smokers, assessed both by self-reported exposure and salivary cotinine concentration, decreased after the implementation of a stepwise, comprehensive smoke-free legislation. There was a high reduction in secondhand smoke exposure during leisure time and no displacement of secondhand smoke exposure at home.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cotinine / chemistry
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Self Report
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Cotinine

Grant support

This study was partly funded by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (PI020261, PI081436, RD06/0020/0089, and RD12/0036/0053) and the Department of Universities and Research, Government of Catalonia (grant 2009SGR192). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.