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Buenos Aires set a Guinness World Record and raised awareness of the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke by giving 4,300 people carbon monoxide tests on World No Tobacco Day.

In Argentina, World No Tobacco Day on 31 May was celebrated in a massive way. The Buenos Aires Ministry of Health, a Bloomberg Initiative grantee, and the Anti-Cancer Argentinean Coalition (LALCEC) organised a campaign for people to measure the carbon monoxide (CO) in their blood at four stations on the city's busy Florida Street.

The main objective was to raise public awareness about the harm caused by smoking and the diseases that can be caused in active and passive smokers. But the organisers also hoped to meet another goal – to set a Guinness World Record for the most people to complete the test in eight hours.

According to Guinness, they needed to give 250 tests to beat the previous record, but the Buenos Aires event attracted 4,300 people to take tests between 8 am and 4 pm.

CO is one of the most harmful substances in cigarette smoke, because it interferes with memory, lung and blood circulation in the sexual organs and other critical functions. Smokers tend to have up to 10 times more CO in their blood than normal.

The simple test consisted holding a breath for 10 seconds, then blowing slowly into a disposable CO monitor. More than one nonsmoker was surprised with the results, as they showed the rate of CO in their blood could be high even if they didn't smoke.

As with all Guinness World Record attempt involving medical screening, qualified medical professionals had to give the tests and careful records of participants were required.

The Buenos Aires City government was very happy with the success of the event and plans to continue this tobacco education programme by placing "Healthy Stations" in different public plazas in the city.


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