Secondhand smoke in bars, restaurants increases asthma, cancer risk

August 2, 2013 by Julie Chao, University of California - Berkeley

In the first study to evaluate the health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke for patrons of restaurants and bars, researchers have found that the risks are well above the acceptable level. The study assessed the risk for lung cancer and heart disease deaths among both patrons and servers and also for asthma initiation—the first study to do so—among servers.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists Lara Gundel and Michael Apte contributed to the study, which was led by Ruiling Liu and Katharine Hammond from UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. The results were published in the journal Tobacco Control in a paper titled, "Assessment of risk for asthma initiation and cancer and deaths among patrons and servers due to secondhand in and bars."

Taking exposure data from 65 restaurants and bars in Minnesota over an eight-month period in 2007, the researchers found that the lifetime excess risk of lung cancer death was 18 in a million for patrons visiting only nonsmoking sections and 80 in a million for patrons in the smoking section. For servers, the lifetime excess risk was 802 in a million for lung cancer death.

Extrapolating to the entire country, the researchers estimate that the lifetime excess risk for the general nonsmoking population due to exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars would result in 214 additional deaths and 3,001 additional heart disease deaths per year.

"One in a million is significant," said Gundel. "You can't control people smoking, but to support tobacco-free policies we need to know how to protect people."

Although smoking bans have been enacted in many parts of the country, one quarter of the U.S. population remains unprotected by smoke-free policies in restaurants and 35 percent in bars, according to the study. Globally 95 percent of the population is unprotected by smoke-free policies in restaurants and bars. Moreover continue to fight , and increasing numbers of cities are repealing or weakening them.

While previous studies have examined health risks for people working in restaurants and bars, none had quantified risks to patrons. In the U.S. 66 percent of adults eat out at least weekly, and for nonsmokers restaurants and bars may be their predominant source of exposure. The researchers assumed weekly visits to restaurants for 60 years.

This was also the first study to look at servers' risk of asthma initiation due to . They estimated the risks to correspond to 1,420 new asthma cases per year among nonsmoking servers in the United States.

"There are huge economic impacts related to smoking," Gundel said. "It's worth it to society to try to minimize the damage from smoking."

Explore further: Airport smoking areas expose travelers, workers to risk: CDC

Related Stories

Airport smoking areas expose travelers, workers to risk: CDC

November 20, 2012
(HealthDay)—Levels of secondhand smoke outside smoking rooms and other designated smoking areas in airports are five times higher than in smoke-free airports, a new U.S. study finds.

New study confirms need for state smoke-free laws

August 2, 2013
American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments today on the CDC Foundation's new study released in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, which found smoke-free laws in nine states had no impact ...

Secondhand smoke affects most apartment residents

December 17, 2012
Nearly 29 million Americans who say they don't smoke in their apartments may still be exposed to secondhand smoke that wafts in from elsewhere in the building, federal researchers report Friday.

Researchers invent real time secondhand smoke sensor

March 19, 2013
Making headway against a major public health threat, Dartmouth College researchers have invented the first ever secondhand tobacco smoke sensor that records data in real time, a new study in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco ...

Smoke-free-air laws should include bars

January 27, 2012
Exempting bars from a statewide smoking ban in Indiana would significantly reduce the health benefits of a smoke-free-air law. Including bars not only protects the health of employees, say Indiana University tobacco control ...

Secondhand smoke in cars, bars impairs breathing within 20 minutes

October 22, 2012
Heavy concentrations of secondhand smoke, such as those found in smoke-filled bars and cars, can lead to airway restriction for bystanders within minutes of exposure. The study, presented at CHEST 2012, the annual meeting ...

Recommended for you

Accurate measurements of sodium intake confirm relationship with mortality

June 21, 2018
Eating foods high in salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, but does that linear relationship extend to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death? Recent cohort studies have contested that relationship, ...

Fans of yoga therapy have yet to win over doctors

June 21, 2018
Yoga practitioners often tout the unique health benefits of the ancient discipline—from relieving stress and pain to improving vascular health—but most doctors remain sceptical in the absence of hard proof.

Fruit and vegetables linked to changes in skin colour, new research finds

June 21, 2018
Skin colour in young Caucasian men is strongly linked to high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, new research by Curtin University has found.

What a pain: The iPad neck plagues women more

June 20, 2018
Is your iPad being a literal pain in the neck?

Medicaid work requirements and health savings accounts may impact people's coverage

June 20, 2018
Current experimental approaches in Medicaid programs—including requirements to pay premiums, contribute to health savings accounts, or to work—may lead to unintended consequences for patient coverage and access, such ...

Introduction of alcohol found to adversely impact fertility rates in hunter-gatherer community

June 19, 2018
Fernando Ramirez Rozzi, a research director with the French National Centre for Scientific Research has found that the introduction of alcohol to a Baka pygmy hunter-gatherer society caused fertility rates to fall. In his ...

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.