Secondhand Smoke Exposure in Primary School Children: A Survey in Dhaka, Bangladesh



We report on second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure based on saliva cotinine levels among children in Bangladesh—a country with laws against smoking in public places.


A survey of primary school children from two areas of the Dhaka district was conducted in 2015. Participants completed a questionnaire and provided saliva samples for cotinine measurement to assess SHS exposure with a cut-off range of ≥0.1ng/mL.


Four hundred and eighty-one children studying in year-5 were recruited from 12 primary schools. Of these, 479 saliva samples were found sufficient for cotinine testing, of which 95% (453/479) were positive for recent SHS exposure. Geometric mean cotinine was 0.36 (95% CI = 0.32 to 0.40); 43% (208/479) of children lived with at least one smoker in the household. Only 21% (100/479) reported complete smoking restrictions for residents and visitors; 87% (419/479) also reported being recently exposed to SHS in public spaces. Living with a smoker and number of tobacco selling shops in the neighborhood had positive associations with recent SHS exposure.


Despite having a ban on smoking in public places, recent SHS exposure among children in Bangladesh remains very high. There is an urgent need to reduce exposure to SHS in Bangladeshi children.


Children bear the biggest burden of disease due to SHS exposure than any other age group. However, children living in many high-income countries have had a sharp decline in their exposure to SHS in recent years. What remains unknown is if children living in low-income countries are still exposed to SHS. Our study suggests that despite having a ban on smoking in public places, most primary school children in Dhaka, Bangladesh are still likely to be exposed to SHS.

Sarwat Shah, Mona Kanaan, Rumana Huque, Aziz Sheikh, Omara Dogar, Heather Thomson, Steve Parrott, Kamran Siddiqi, Secondhand Smoke Exposure in Primary School Children: A Survey in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Volume 21, Issue 4, April 2019, Pages 416–423,
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