A national workplace ban on smoking in Ireland resulted in an 83 percent reduction in air pollution in pubs, an 80 percent decrease in airborne carcinogens for patrons and staff, and an improvement in the respiratory health of bar workers, according to a one-year follow-up study.
The research appears in the second issue for April 2007 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.
Luke Clancy, M.D., B.Sc., Director of the Research Institute for a Tobacco Free Society in Dublin, and four associates examined the effect of the world's first national smoking ban on environmental tobacco smoke exposure in 42 Dublin pubs and among 73 male bar staff members who received pre- and post-ban lung function tests. Participants were tested prior to the March 29, 2004 national smoking ban, and again one-year later.
Among the barworkers, the self-reported workplace exposure to environmental tobacco smoke was over 40 hours per week pre-ban, but dropped to about 25 minutes post-ban, showing a 99 percent decrease in exposure.
Post-ban tests also demonstrated an 83 percent reduction in tiny particulate matter in bar air.
"These results confirm that the approach of a total ban on smoking in the workplace is successful in reducing the exposure of workers to particles," said Dr. Clancy. "We have previously shown that a reduction of particle levels in ambient air resulted in marked health benefits in terms of respiratory and cardiovascular mortality."
According to the investigators, the volatile hydrocarbon benzene was used as a marker for carcinogenic substances because cigarette smoke is a well-known source. They noted that there was an 80.2 percent reduction in benzene concentrations in pubs after the ban, having already established the ambient outdoor levels for benzene in Dublin.