Changes in bar workers’ exposure to second-hand smoke following the introduction of the recent smoke-free legislation in EnglandDate: 01 January 2007
The Tobacco Control Coordinating Centre (TCCC) are undertaking an England-wide study examining the effect of Smoke-free legislation on bar workers' exposure to second-hand smoke and health. Scientists at the Institute of Occupational Medicine and the University of Aberdeen have provided advice on the interpretation of some preliminary air sampling data and the results of the saliva samples taken in one bar in Bristol before and after the introduction of recent smoke-free legislation. Before the smoking restrictions the level of airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a marker for second-hand smoke, was over 500 micrograms per cubic metre of air. This is a level viewed as ‘hazardous to health’ when it occurs in outside air. After the restrictions the levels of fine particulate matter reduced by 99% to 7 micrograms per cubic metre of air. This is a level typically found in outside air in Bristol.
The saliva from two bar workers' showed levels of cotinine, a by-product of inhaling nicotine, that were much higher than we would expect from non-smokers. Their levels were about five times higher than those seen in non-smokers who live with smokers. The analysis of these figures suggests that these bar workers were being exposed to second-hand smoke that was leading to nicotine levels equivalent to smoking about 250 cigarettes per year, i.e. about 5% of a typical smokers consumption. The saliva samples taken after the legislation was introduced were about 80% lower than the measurements made before the ban and were comparable to levels found in most non-smokers in the general population.