Large scale smoking ban study to take place in Scotland

In collaboration with the Press Association

A major study of bar workers' health is to be carried out to asses the impact of Scotland's smoking ban, which comes into force on Sunday, March 26th. The University of Aberdeen will lead the research, which is to be the largest of its type in the world. The Bar workers' Health and Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure or BHETSE Project will build on work carried out over the last four months.

Over this period, researchers have been gathering data on bar-workers' lung function using a device which measures lung capacity and how much air people can expel from their lungs in one second. They also recorded bar-workers' perceptions of the health effects of second-hand smoke and their attitudes to the forthcoming ban.

Dr Sean Semple, a lecturer at the University's Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, said: "Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke or ETS is a cause of considerable ill-health, with recent estimates suggesting that ETS causes between 1,500 and 2,000 non-smoker deaths every year in Scotland.

"Workers in the hospitality sector have particularly high levels of ETS exposure and the introduction of smokefree legislation in other countries suggests that hospitality workers may quickly experience improvements in respiratory health." A similar, though smaller, study in San Francisco showed improvements in lung function within eight weeks of a ban introduced there in 1998, said Dr Semple. A further study in Ireland found that the proportion of bar-workers reporting respiratory symptoms fell from 26 to seven per cent in the 12 months following their ban.

NHS Health Scotland is funding the research, which also involves the Institute of Occupational Medicine and the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in Glasgow.