Skip navigation


Clear link established between high levels of smoking and Carbon Monoxide pollution
in both smokers AND non smokers.

The HELP–COMETS (Carbon monOxide Measure of Exposure to Tobacco Smoke) report, which is a study of over 111,835 smokers and non-smokers across the 27 EU Member States, has clearly demonstrated the link between smoking and high levels of CO (Carbon Monoxide) pollution in both smokers AND non smokers.

The report prepared by Bertrand Dautzenberg, who is a professor of chest medicine at PitiΓ©-SalpΓͺtriΓ¨re hospital in Paris, utilised the results of CO tests taken at over 400 events organised by the HELP – β€˜For a life without tobacco’ campaign.

Key Findings:

Β· Smokers in Europe are heavily polluted by CO from cigarette smoke: The mean level of exhaled CO in the 49,392 smokers tested was 17.5 ppm (parts per million). This is twice the maximum level which is tolerated for air pollution in European cities.

Β· Non-smokers are affected by CO pollution from smokers: The mean level of exhaled CO amongst the 62,433 non smokers was 3.9 ppm. However, this level was higher in countries where more CO was produced by smokers. For non-smokers who reported an exposure to tobacco smoke, the exhaled CO increased in proportion with the duration of exposure, with a two fold increase for 8 hours of exposure.

Β· Good news from countries with advanced tobacco controls: The mean level of exhaled CO in non-smokers in countries without a smoking ban was 5.2 ppm. This decreases to just 2.5 ppm in countries with full indoor tobacco bans or strong tobacco controls. CO levels were also reduced in countries with high tobacco prices.

Commenting on the report Professor Martin Jarvis, a Clinical Psychologist at the UCL Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, said, β€œThe HELP-COMETS report clearly demonstrates the link between high levels of ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke) and carbon monoxide pollution in the general population. This reinforces the case for extending indoor tobacco bans across Europe to decrease the CO pollution of the smoking and non-smoking population.”

β€œThe fact that smokers had a mean exhaled CO level of 17.5 ppm is also worrying as CO is a toxic substance and has multiple negative effects particularly on the heart and circulatory system,” added Professor Jarvis.

Ruth Bosworth, Director of Services for QUIT, the UK charity that has helped over 2 million smokers said, "Smokers who have successfully stopped have told QUIT that having CO readings are a key element in maintaining motivation throughout their quit attempt. The health benefits of being smoke free are almost immediate. Any smoker is 4 times more likely to be successful if they get the right support, use Quitline 0800 00 22 00, a clinically proven treatment and have CO readings to monitor their progress."

The majority of the 111,835 CO tests were conducted in public places as part of the HELP Campaign’s road show events that took place across Europe. No one was excluded from taking the tests and the age range ran from 4 to 106! 53% of respondents were male and the mean age of those taking the test was 32.1 years.

The results of this initial report only include the 111,835 tests taken in the first year and a half of the project. Since these results were computerised a further 90,000 tests have been conducted and the full results will be analysed at the end of the campaign once they have been added to the database.

In the UK, HELP-COMET results were recorded at events across the country in towns and cities as diverse as Blackpool, Bognor Regis, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Clacton-on-Sea, Kingston-upon-Thames, Edinburgh, Leicester, Lewisham, Morecambe, Southend-on-Sea and Southport to name just a few. Further HELP events are planned, including another beach tour in Summer 2008.

To request a copy of the four page summary report of the results please email
For further information on the HELP Campaign please visit


For further information please contact:

Niall Dologhan or Naomi van Moppes on 020 8789 2587 or

Editors Notes:

Β· About Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg

Bertrand Dautzenberg is a professor of chest medicine at PitiΓ©-SalpΓͺtriΓ¨re hospital in Paris. He has been involved in lung cancer treatment, the network for treatment of COPD, the treatment of tuberculosis and tobacco prevention and treatment.

In the tobacco field, he chairs the β€˜Office de prevention du Tabagisme’ (OFT), β€˜Paris Sans Tabac’ (PST), β€˜ACTIF’ (Alliance contre le tabac d’Ile de France) and the Antismoking committee of Paris hospital network (Assistance Publique – HΓ΄pitaux de Paris). He participates on the board of the β€˜European Network of Smoking Prevention’ (ENSP) and is the coordinator of the β€˜European smoke-free hospital network’ (ENSH).

In 2005, he was decorated with the World Health Organisation medal for his work on behalf of tobacco control. He has written five books on tobacco and a report on passive smoking for the French Health Minister.

Β· Martin Jarvis

Martin Jarvis is Professor Emeritus of Health Psychology at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London. He was previously Principal Scientist with Cancer Research UK’s Health Behaviour Unit. He trained in clinical psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry and for many years worked with Michael Russell’s smoking research group.

Over the past 29 years has researched and published widely on tobacco smoking, with special interests in the role of nicotine, social and family influences on smoking, smoking cessation methods and passive smoking. He was recently Chair of the UK government’s Technical Advisory Group on Tobacco and Health, Deputy Chair of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, and was Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Health Committee’s inquiries into tobacco and health and into smoking in public places. He is a member of the World Health Organisation’s study group on Tobacco Product Regulation. He was awarded an OBE in 2002.

Β· About HELP

Tobacco is Europe’s greatest public health challenge, killing more than 650,000 people each year. This figure includes 19,000 people who have never smoked themselves. To tackle this issue, the European Commission, launched one of the world’s biggest anti-smoking communication campaigns in 2005, β€˜ HELP – For a life without tobacco’. This uses a range of communication tools including television advertising, the internet; the active participation of young people from all Member States and a roadshow appearing at public places and events where the European citizens can test their carbon monoxide (CO) level.

β€œHELP” is the second major EU-wide anti-smoking campaign run by the European Commission. The European Commission earmarked €72 million for the campaign between 2005 and 2008. Adolescents (15 to 18 year olds) and young adults (18 to 30 years olds) are the main target groups.

At the outset of the campaign Markos Kyprianou, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said: β€œThe sickness and death caused by smoking costs EU countries €100 billion a year. Prevention and information campaigns like β€œHELP” are an investment in a healthier and more prosperous future for our citizens. As well as promoting tobacco-free lifestyles to young people, the campaign also highlights the dangers of passive smoking and supports the trend towards tobacco-free public places.”

He continued: β€œEight out of ten smokers start in their teenage years. Once hooked, it is a habit that takes many of them to an early grave. Every year, 650,000 EU citizens die from tobacco related disease. I am determined to do everything I can to stop young people taking up smoking, and to help young smokers kick the habit before it ruins their health. I want to see a major shift in our society, where being smoke-free becomes the norm and the smoke-addicted are a dwindling minority."

Β· Further information

The press releases, press kits, logo and images from the HELP campaign can be downloaded from the Web site

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Kestrel Worldcom in the following categories: Health, for more information visit