Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 6 Issue 58 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 27-Feb-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 28-Feb-2004
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No smoking areas afford "marginal" or "trivial" protection from second hand tobacco smoke

[Designated "no smoking" areas provide from partial to no protection from environmental tobacco smoke Tobacco Control 2004; 13: 17-22]

"No smoking" areas in clubs and restaurants afford little or no protection from the detrimental effects of second hand tobacco smoke, suggests research in Tobacco Control.

At the very most, such areas typically halve levels of environmental tobacco smoke - rather less than non-smokers might reasonably expect, say the authors.

In Australia damages have already been awarded to a bar worker after she developed throat cancer, on the grounds that she developed this as a result of exposure to second hand tobacco smoke.

The research was carried out in 17 social and gaming clubs in and around Sydney. All the clubs were licensed to sell alcohol and contained non-smoking areas, which were either designated areas or separate rooms.

Levels of atmospheric nicotine, particulate matter and carbon dioxide were measured in the smoking and non-smoking areas, as well as outside, during a normal evening.

The findings showed that levels of nicotine and particulate matter - a leading source of indoor pollution from cigarettes and a potential cancer promoter - were substantially lower in the non- smoking areas than in the smoking areas.

But the levels of reduction varied widely, leading the authors to suspect that a favourable biological impact is not guaranteed.

Having a separate room as opposed to a designated area for non-smokers made little difference to the reduction in the amount of atmospheric nicotine and particulate matter.

Taking all the results into consideration, and allowing for the facilities concerned, the authors calculated that a person moving from a smoking to a non-smoking area in one of these clubs could expect, on average, to halve the amount of nicotine (53%) and particulate matter (52%) inhaled.

"No-smoking areas may provide some reduction in the level of exposure of individuals to environmental tobacco smoke. However?the reduction may be marginal or trivial," say the authors.

Regulations permitting clubs, bars, and casinos to allow patrons to smoke on the premises, provided there are designated non-smoking areas "must be regarded as ineffective in protecting individuals at risk of passive smoking," they conclude.

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