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Ban on smoking saves bar staff

Banning smoking in public places has significantly improved the health of bar workers in Scotland.

The percentage of workers with respiratory and sensory symptoms fell by a third between February and June 2006, from 79 per cent to 53 per cent.

Measurements of forced expiratory volume increased by 8 per cent in the first month and serum cotinine levels fell from 5.15ng/mL to 3.22ng/mL, results from 77 bar staff showed.

Bar workers suffering from asthma had less airway inflammation after just a month of the ban, with a reduction in exhaled nitric oxide from 34.3 to 27.4 parts per billion, a study in JAMA showed.

Study leader Dr Daniel Menzies, clinical research fellow in the asthma and allergy research group, University Of Dundee, said: 'There was a very rapid reduction in the number of bar staff with symptoms related to passive smoke. But also, perhaps more significantly, there was a rapid improvement in lung function, and also in the amount of inflammation.'

Dr Mike Thomas, a GP in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, and hospital practitioner in respiratory medicine, said the research should be used to inform wider UK policy.

'The research is very supportive of the proposed legislation to ban smoking in public places in the rest of the UK. I don't think anybody should be exposed to things that are detrimental to their health as part of their livelihood,' he said.

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