Smoking ban equals improvement in bar workers’ health

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 8th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Studies show second-hand cigarette smoke can be harmful to the health of nonsmokers. Recent research has indicated an increased risk of coronary artery disease and lung cancer from second-hand smoke exposure. A report from the U-S surgeon general linked exposure to cigarette smoke in the environment and premature death. And recently, several U-S states banned indoor smoking in restaurants and other public areas.

Now, research looking at respiratory symptoms before and after a smoking ban points to significant improvements in lung function among nonsmokers a mere two months after those around them snuffed out the cigarettes. In 2006, the country of Scotland banned smoking in enclosed public spaces, including bars. To measure the potential benefits of a smoke-free environment, doctors surveyed seventy-seven non-smoking bar workers, evaluating symptoms of second-hand smoke exposure.

Measures taken before the smoking ban indicated that almost eighty percent of the bar workers had symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath and cough, and eye and throat irritation. But one month after indoor smoking ceased, only fifty-three percent of the employees reported these symptoms.Just two months after the smoke-free policy was put in place the number declined further, to forty-seven percent. Experts also documented less airway obstruction in asthmatic bar workers and an increase in their overall quality-of-life scores.

Researchers say although few studies like this one have been done, the results could have everyone breathing easier: A reduction in exposure to passive cigarette smoke, they say, can equal improved health.