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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 69-77

Do exceptions to smokefree environment work? A case study of designated smoking rooms in Indian civil airports

1 Department of Tobacco Control and NCD, International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, New Delhi, India
2 Independent Public Health Consultant, New Delhi, India
3 Department of Community Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, India
4 Department of Community Medicine, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College and Hospital, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Ashish Kumar Pandey
C-6, Qutub Institutional Area, New Delhi - 110 016
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jncd.jncd_26_17

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Background: According to the WHO, 603,000 people die annually from secondhand smoke(SHS) exposure, of which nearly 200,000 is in Southeast Asia. India's national tobacco control legislation provides an exception to create designated smoking rooms(DSRs) in certain hospitality sector and airport. Objective: To assess the compliance of DSRs in India's civil airports to national tobacco control legislation and explore the perspectives of key stakeholders regarding its purpose and usefulness. Methodology: A mixed-method study(triangulation design) where both quantitative(structured survey) and qualitative(key informant interviews) methods were used to measure the compliance level of DSRs and to explore the stakeholder's perceptions on DSRs, respectively. Results and Conclusions: Our survey found that all DSRs met with the legislative requirements as specified under the Smokefree Rules. However, nine of the 15 DSRs surveyed were found to be ineffective as they spread SHS in adjacent no smoking areas. Contrary to the prevailing belief that smokers feel an irresistible urge to smoke, our interview results suggest that such urge was entirely manageable even for longer durations. Respondents(smokers) also shared that some DSRs because of poor design and lack of proper ventilation were suffocating and therefore were not a desirable place for smoking. In addition, half of the DSRs violated the tobacco advertising provision. The existing rationale of providing a dedicated space(DSRs) given the operational and public health concerns is questionable. The survey findings calls for elimination of the exceptions provided to smokers in the form of DSRs in public places such as airports.

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