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It has long been recognised that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) causes respiratory and cardio-vascular disease. A ban, prohibiting smoking in the workplace, was sanctioned by the Irish government and came into effect on 29 March, 2004. Bar staff were an ideal group to study the health effects of the introduction of this ban. Methods Workers were recruited through their Trade Union, Mandate, and 81 participated in the pre-ban phase of testing between September 2003 and March 2004. They attend the Respiratory Laboratory in St. James’s Hospital and underwent lung function tests and measurement of exhaled carbon monoxide (CO). They also completed a questionnaire relating to their respiratory health and personal smoking history. 75 (92.6%) returned one year late (6-11 months) post ban) and repeated the test and questionnaire. Results 73 barmen were included in the analysis. 34 (47%) had never smoked 31 (42%) were ex-smokers, and 8 (11%) were current smokers. After the introduction of the ban upper and lower airway symptoms were significantly reduced. Worker’s exposure to ETS in work was reduced from an average of 40 hours per week to less than half an hour post ban (-99%,p=0.001). Exhaled carbon monoxide (used as a marker of exposure) was reduced by a mean of 40% in the non-smoking barmen. 57 (88%) of non smokers reported the same or less exposure to ETS outside work. Tests to measure how well the lungs were working showed significant improvement in those barmen who never smoked but showed deterioration in smokers. Conclusion Overall the workplace ban on smoking has shown an immediate effect on the respiratory health in non-smoking bar workers, with reduction in symptoms and CO levels, and better lung function results.
Agnew, Michele (Thesis), "To evaluate the effects of the introduction of a smoke-free environment on the lung function of bar workers in Dublin" (2006). Masters. Paper 38.