Smoking on footpaths increases hazardous air pollutants

July 9, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- A study by the University of Otago, Wellington has found that smoking on city street footpaths increases the amount of dangerous fine particulates in city air.

The five week long study by public health researchers used a sensitive air monitor to measure in the Lower Hutt shopping centre as they passed 284 people who were on the footpaths.

They found that when were observed, at an average distance of 2.6 metres, there was an average 70% more fine in the air (PM2.5 or less than 2.5mm in diameter) than when there were no smokers around.

When standing next to a smoker at a bus stop, the mean fine particulate was 16 times the background level, with a peak of 26 times the background level.

One of the researchers, Dr George Thomson, pointed out that the problem of smoking on streets is being addressed internationally with a growing number of cities successfully adopting smokefree policies for at least some outdoor parts of shopping areas. These cities include Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and many in California and Japan.

“Much of the impetus for these policies is to denormalise smoking further, and to decrease the example of smoking to children,” he says.

“Reducing visible smoking also makes it easier for smokers to quit and to stay quit.”

Study co-author, Associate Professor Nick Wilson says that city councils should do more to help protect the health of pedestrians, and especially those in outdoor pavement seating, by implementing smokefree policies for shopping areas. “They should be particularly concerned about protecting bar and restaurant workers who frequently have to breathe in second hand smoke when servicing outdoor tables with smokers,” he says.

Other likely benefits of smokefree streets would be decreased street cleaning costs from less cigarette butt litter, a better public image for a city, the reduction of second hand smoke drifting into shops and offices, and reducing the nuisance impact for others walking on footpaths.

The researchers found the results of this study were consistent with similar research along streets in downtown Wellington, even though there were less pedestrians and smokers in Lower Hutt.

The study has been published in the international journal Health & Place, and the research was funded by the Cancer Society of New Zealand, Wellington Branch.

Explore further: Children from lower-socioeconomic area more likely to be exposed to smoke in cars

More information: Patel V, Thomson G, Wilson N. Smoking increases air pollution levels in city streets: Observational and fine particulate data. Health and Place Online May 29, 2012. DOI : 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.05.005

Related Stories

Children from lower-socioeconomic area more likely to be exposed to smoke in cars

December 8, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Children from a lower socio-economic area in Wellington, Wainuiomata, are 11 times more likely to be exposed to cigarette smoking in cars than in the wealthier suburb of Karori, according to recent research.

Stopping smoking is hard despite success of smoke-free legislation

April 20, 2012
The successful implementation of smokefree legislation in Hong Kong has led to an overall decrease in the total number of smokers but the remaining smokers who are finding it difficult to quit are going on to become "hardcore" ...

Social disapproval not fear helps smokers quit

March 15, 2012
Researchers from Canterbury Christ Church University have found that smokers are more likely to stop because of anti-social attitudes towards them than from fear of ill-health.

Clean indoor air laws encourage bans on smoking at home

November 8, 2011
Second hand smoke exposure among nonsmokers has declined over time as clean indoor air laws have been adopted. However, there has been concern that such laws might encourage smokers to smoke more in their homes or other private ...

Recommended for you

Postmenopausal women should still steer clear of HRT: task force

December 12, 2017
(HealthDay)—Yet again, the nation's leading authority on preventive medicine says postmenopausal women should avoid hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Will 'AI' be part of your health-care team?

December 12, 2017
(HealthDay)—Artificial intelligence is assuming a greater role in many walks of life, with research suggesting it may even help doctors diagnose disease.

State-level disclosure laws affect patients' eagerness to have their DNA tested

December 12, 2017
Different types of privacy laws in U.S. states produce markedly different effects on the willingness of patients to have genetic testing done, according to a new study co-authored by an MIT professor.

Babies born during famine have lower cognition in midlife

December 12, 2017
Hunger and malnutrition in infancy may lead to poor cognitive performance in midlife, according to a new study.

Full moon linked to increased risk of fatal motorcycle crashes

December 11, 2017
The full moon is associated with an increased risk of fatal motorcycle crashes in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, finds a study in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

'Man flu' may be real

December 11, 2017
The much-debated phenomenon of "man flu" may have some basis in fact, suggests an article published in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.