Magazine article Science News

Smoke Out: Bartenders' Lungs Appreciate Ban

Magazine article Science News

Smoke Out: Bartenders' Lungs Appreciate Ban

Article excerpt

Pub workers in Scotland breathed easier and showed better respiratory health shortly after a nationwide ban on smoking inside public places went into effect earlier this year, scientists report.

Other research had suggested that worker health improves after a smoking ban, but this is the most comprehensive study to date, says pulmonologist Daniel Menzies of the University of Dundee.

He and his colleagues identified 90 non-smoking workers at 41 randomly chosen bars in Dundee and Perth. The researchers met each participant 1 month before the ban on smoking began in late March. The volunteers submitted to breathing tests, blood sampling, and health interviews. The researchers repeated the exams 1 month and 2 months after the ban took effect.

Before the ban, 61 of the 90 bar workers reported wheezing, shortness of breath, eye irritation, a running nose, or more than one of these symptoms. One month after the ban took effect, only 41 had such symptoms, and that number decreased slightly more in the next month, the researchers report in the Oct. 11 Journal of the American Medical Association.

In a standard lung-function test in which a person forcibly blows into a tube, the bar workers could exhale more air by 1 month after the smoking ban than they could beforehand. The quick turnaround is notable because these people had worked at the pubs for 9 years on average, Menzies says.

Two other tests measured inflammation in the workers' bodies. …

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