Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Passive exposure to tobacco smoke: saliva cotinine concentrations in a representative population sample of non-smoking schoolchildren.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 291 doi: (Published 05 October 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;291:927
  1. M J Jarvis,
  2. M A Russell,
  3. C Feyerabend,
  4. J R Eiser,
  5. M Morgan,
  6. P Gammage,
  7. E M Gray


    Saliva cotinine concentrations in 569 non-smoking schoolchildren were strongly related to the smoking habits of their parents. When neither parent smoked the mean concentration was 0.44 ng/ml, rising to 3.38 ng/ml when both parents were cigarette smokers. Mothers' smoking had a stronger influence than did fathers' (p less than 0.01). In addition, there was a small independent effect of number of siblings who smoked (p less than 0.01). The dose of nicotine received from fathers' smoking was estimated as equivalent to the active smoking of 30 cigarettes a year, that from mothers' smoking as equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a year, and that from both parents smoking as equivalent to smoking 80 cigarettes a year. This unsolicited burden may be prolonged throughout childhood and poses a definite risk to health.