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Bar staff in better health after smoking ban

The health of bar workers, including those who are smokers themselves, has significantly improved in Scotland, UK, after a ban on smoking in enclosed public places, such as pubs and cafes, new research shows. The results, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine,...

The health of bar workers, including those who are smokers themselves, has significantly improved in Scotland, UK, after a ban on smoking in enclosed public places, such as pubs and cafes, new research shows. The results, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, show that bar staff who actively smoke cigarettes have become healthier, with fewer smoking related symptoms after the ban. The study was based on 371 workers from 72 Scottish bars and pubs. All were tested for smoke-related health symptoms, such as respiratory problems and sensory symptoms including sore throats, red eyes and excessive phlegm production, both before and after the ban. The post smoking ban tests were carried out after 2 and 12 months. The results reveal that respiratory problems in bar workers who smoke had decreased from 69% to 57% after a year. Red eyes and sore throats also decreased from 75% to 64%. Almost half of the bar workers who smoke also experienced a decline in wheezing. There was an even bigger fall in respiratory and sensory symptoms in non-smokers who work in bars and pubs. Among these, researchers found that excessive phlegm, red eyes and sore throats fell from 44% to 18%. In the UK, smoking bans were brought into effect in Scotland in 2006 and in England and Wales in 2007 to help protect the health of workers in the hospitality sector, such as restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes against 'passive smoking' which doctors believe kills more than 600 people in the UK every year. The results of the study, say the authors, show definite proof that the smoking ban in public places is helping to improve the health of both smokers and non-smokers alike, a positive result that will hopefully encourage people who still smoke to quit. It will also help vindicate the smoking ban legislation, which was highly controversial and engendered much debate about freedom versus health. When the smoking ban first came into effect in the UK, there were also worries about its economic effects on trade in pubs, cafes and restaurants. However, the ban has received much support from the general public, and opposition from bar workers has not been widespread. However, the authors of the study believe that due to the smoking ban, more people are now smoking at home, thereby exposing their children to higher levels of tobacco smoke. They believe that more attention should now be paid to this.