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Smoking ban study shows health benefits for bar staff

11.10.2006
Scotland’s smoking ban has had an immediate and positive impact on the health of bar staff who were previously subject to high levels of passive cigarette smoke, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Dundee has concluded.

Staff monitored by researchers in the University’s Asthma and Allergy Research Group were shown to have experienced significant benefits to their general health as a result of the smoking ban.

The study is the first major piece of medical research into the effects of the ban. Results of the study are published today (October 11th) in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The health of staff who worked in often smoky atmospheres in pubs and clubs was widely cited as one of the chief reasons for introducing the ban, which took effect on March 26th of this year.

“Our study shows that, across a number of health indicators, positive changes were evident even in the first two months following the introduction of the smoking ban, which is a very rapid change,” said Dr Daniel Menzies, Principal Investigator in the Adult Asthma and Allergy Research Group, working under the direction of the head of the group Professor Brian Lipworth.

“We were looking at bar staff with symptoms attributable to cigarette smoke, and in those two months following the smoking ban the proportion showing symptoms fell from over 80% to less than 50%.

“We also recorded reductions in levels of nicotine in the bloodstream, breathing tests showed improvement in lung function of between 5% and 10 %, and there was less inflammation in the bloodstream, a factor which inputs into areas such as cardiovascular health.

“The greatest changes we saw were within bar staff who were asthmatic, a group we specifically targetted. With these people we saw an overall improvement in their general quality of life.

“This was a comprehensive study looking at a range of factors that may be affected by the absence of passive cigarette smoke and the general conclusion is that the smoking ban does improve the health of people working in an atmosphere where previously there was a lot of smoke.”

Researchers carried out a range of tests on bar staff in and around Dundee, 77 of whom completed the study. The majority of them are full-time staff working in bars for around 30 hours per week. The average time spent working in bars was around nine years.

Those taking part in the study were subjected to tests one month before the smoking ban was implemented and then re-examined at periods of one and two months following the ban taking effect.

They were given breathing tests and a blood test to determine respiratory symptoms and levels of inflammation to the lungs and blood vessels. They were also given a quality of life questionnaire to complete.

The study was wholly funded by the University of Dundee

Roddy Isles | alfa
Further information:
http://www.dundee.ac.uk

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