Smoking ban: Immediate effect on workers' health

4 Oct 2007
Staff in pubs, restaurants and bars across England have already benefited from a smokefree workplace, according to new research revealed at the National Cancer Research Institute Conference in Birmingham.

Researchers from the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre in Warwick found that those staff who did not smoke had four times less cotinine, a by product of nicotine, in their saliva after the ban than before. They also discovered that in the 3 months since its introduction, the level of second hand smoke has fallen by 95 %.

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, assessed the air quality in around 40 venues across the country, and found that the levels of certain particles associated with cigarette smoke dropped from hazardous in June, to almost matching outside air in August. It also interviewed staff from 59 other businesses, including bars, pubs, clubs, bingo halls, restaurants, betting shops, cafes and member’s clubs to assess employer, employee and customer views on the ban.

It was found that one month after the legislation was introduced just over half the employees believed their health was better. Customers agreed, with almost 80% thinking that the health of the employees had improved.

Business owners had also accepted the new law with a more enthusiastic approach than expected. Prior to implication over half had thought that it would have a negative effect on trade, but in August, 70 % said the law had a little or no impact on trade.

The researchers also calculated that on average, employee exposure was the equivalent to smoking 190 cigarettes a year before the legislation, and around 44 cigarettes after.

Hilary Wareing, co director of the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre, added: “The improvements in air quality and reduction in cotinine levels were even better than we could have imagined. This study proves beyond doubt that smokefree workplaces are helping to improve the health of the nation’s hospitality workers.”