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A study in Scotland has confirmed how hospitality staff and customers there have benefited from a national smoking ban in enclosed public spaces. One of the largest direct evaluations anywhere, it showed high compliance since the ban came into force in March 2006, confounding predictions of the naysayers.
Average secondhand smoke concentrations—measured as airborne particulate matter <2.5 μg diameter (PM2.5)—in selected public houses dropped on average 80% after the ban and were generally similar to those of the outside atmosphere, drastically down from their previous levels, when they exceeded limits classified as “unhealthy” by US criteria in 81% of visits; as “very unhealthy” in 58%; and “hazardous” in 40%.
Fifty public houses in Aberdeen and Edinburgh were randomly selected, and 53 visits were made to 41 pubs, 37 in Edinburgh and 16 in Aberdeen. Visits occurred two months before and eight weeks after the ban, when air was sampled with a portable direct PM2.5 monitor. Sampling was done discreetly—to avoid changing behaviour of staff or customers—on the equivalent day of the week and at time of day during before and after visits and included busy and quiet times.
The study assessed the impact of the 2005 Scottish act, which followed smoking bans in many other countries. These have all produced a drop in secondhand smoke. Lately, the World Health Organisation has specified a 24 hour average air quality limit for PM2.5 of 25 μg/m3 in outside air to protect against respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Semple S, et al. Tobacco Control 2007;16:127–132.
Please visit the Occupational and Environmental Medicine website [www.occenvmed.com] for a link to the full text of this article.