Hospitality workers are reaping the health benefits of the English smoking ban with levels of exposure to second-hand smoke slashed by around three quarters in just two months, according to research revealed today.
The first major study into employees' health since the 1 July introduction of the ban in England said that before the ban the average hospitality employee's exposure to second-hand smoke was the equivalent to smoking 190 cigarettes a year.
With smoking only allowed in specified outdoor areas of pubs, restaurant and hotels, employees are now exposed to the second-hand smoke of 44 cigarettes a year, the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre in Warwick said.
Hilary Wareing, co-director of the centre, said: "The improvements in air quality and reduction in cotinine levels were even better than we could have imagined. This study proves beyond doubt that smoke-free workplaces are helping to improve the health of the nation's hospitality workers."
Cotinine forms part of the chemical footprint of nicotine and typically remains in the blood for anything between 48 and 96 hours. The research found that employees had four times less cotinine in their saliva in August than they did when levels were measures in June.
The Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre conducted the research on four employees and four customers in 59 hospitality businesses across England in June and August.
The survey also questioned perceptions about the ban. In June, just over half of businesses surveyed believed the ban would have a negative impact on trade. In August 70% said the law had either a positive or no impact on trade.
By Christopher Walton
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