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Secondhand Smoke Deadly to Bar & Casino Workers (2004)
New Delaware study finds secondhand smoke main contributor to indoor air pollution, ventilation not a solution

September 8, 2004 Jim Repace 301-262-9131

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine is the first to examine the air quality of hospitality establishments before and after the implementation of a 100% smoke-free air law. This significant new study illustrates the benefits of smoke-free policies, and concludes that smoke-free policies are responsible for a dramatic improvement in indoor air quality.

The air in a sampling of Delaware hospitality venues was 90% cleaner after the state implemented its comprehensive Clean Indoor Air Act. The study, conducted by health physicist James Repace, measured the air quality in a pool hall, six bars, and a casino in Delaware before and after the law took effect. Secondhand smoke was the source of 90-95% of the respirable particulate air pollution and 85-95% of the particulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PPAH), which are measures of secondhand smoke levels.

The research found that employees working in smoke-filled hospitality venues breathe air that is in violation of federal air quality standards. The pollution levels were 4.6 times higher than permissible standards and nearly 20 times greater than outdoor air. Employees in these establishments may have a greater risk of developing diseases caused by air pollution than people who work alongside freeways and at toll collection booths, making bartending one of the riskiest occupations in terms of respiratory health.

Key findings:

According to this research, bartending may be one of the most dangerous professions around. Bartenders in smoke-filled bars are placed at higher risk of developing lung and heart disease, just by breathing. Smoke-filled indoor hospitality environments are more detrimental to a worker's health than working as a turnpike toll-collector or along freeways.

The smoke-filled indoor environments studied showed air pollution to be 20 times that of outdoor air, and 4.6 times higher than permissible levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ventilation cannot solve the problem, as ventilation technology installed in the indoor environments studied did not, as secondhand smoke contributed 85-95% of the carcinogen PPAH* (polycyclic aromatic carbons), and 90-95% of the respirable particulate air pollution both markers for studying the levels of secondhand smoke. * Polycyclic aromatic carbons are 1/6 of all the carcinogens in tobacco smoke.

Smoke-free are responsible for a dramatic improvement in indoor air quality. After implementation of Delaware's comprehensive state law, indoor air measurements in the same environments showed that the air was indistinguishable from the air outside (except one venue, with residual chalk dust, which was at 17% of pre-law levels).

This study illustrates why we, hospitality workers and entertainers in Colorado, must have 100% smoke-free indoor workplaces and public places.

The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., it is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to quality health care at reasonable cost; to improve the quality of care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse - tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs. To this end, the Foundation supports scientifically valid, peer-reviewed research on the prevention and treatment of illegal and underage substance use, and the effects of substance abuse on the public's health and well-being. To learn more about the Foundation, please visit

Working towards creating a safe and healthy workplace free of tobacco smoke.