An experiment in a cafe confirms that toxins have decreased by 90 percent since the smoking ban

October 30, 2013
An experiment in a café confirms that toxins have decreased by 90 percent since the smoking ban
Lanthanum and cerium particles, the ‘fingerprint’ left by lighters. Credit: IDAEA

Researchers from the IDAEA (CSIC) centre measured the concentration of harmful compounds in a café in Barcelona before and after the anti-smoking law. The results show that toxic and carcinogenic substances dropped 90%, a finding that corroborates that of the Spanish Ministry of Health's latest report.

In 2010, Catalan television programme Quèquicom got in contact with scientists from the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA, CSIC) to analyse the air quality in a café in Barcelona before the smoking ban was implemented. After it came into force in 2011, the researchers decided to take these measurements again and now they have published their findings in the journal Particuology.

As Jorge Pey, the main author of the study, tells SINC, "The positive impact of the act is substantial in terms of chemical composition, with a 90% reduction in the most critical components when it comes to toxicology."

The Spanish Ministry of Health's latest report assessing the impact of this law on public health also reports a "drastic" decrease of 90% in nicotine concentrations and particles below 2.5 µm or PM2.5 in traces of smoke at food and drink establishments in Spain.

The researchers also found a decrease in concentrations and numbers of particles of other diameters: lower than 10 µm or PM10, less than 1 µm or PM1, and ultrafine, with a size below 100 nanometres but more numerous and potentially dangerous for human health.

Ashes, compounds and elements in tobacco smoke. Credit: IDAEA

When it was legal to smoke inside in a café, concentrations of PM10 were greater than 200 µg/m3, more than four times the legal limit. Ultrafine particles were around 50,000 per cm3, also four times more than normal in the city of Barcelona and similar to the levels found on town and city roads with high levels of traffic.

"Among the organic compounds found, particularly noteworthy are those typically associated with vegetable combustion, as well as the high concentrations of benzopyrene (1 nanogram/m3) and cadmium (3.1 ng/m3), known and regulated by their toxic and carcinogenic effects," Pey explains.

Interestingly, they also detected unusually large concentrations of lanthanum and cerium with concentrations some 30 times greater than those to be found in the atmosphere outdoors in the city. These two elements comprise the 'fingerprint' that lighters leave in the air when lit.

Explore further: Smoking in bar entrances increases presence of nicotine inside, study finds

More information: Pey, J. et al. An evaluation of mass, number concentration, chemical composition and types of particles in a cafeteria before and after the passage of an antismoking law, Particuology 11: 527-532, 2013.

Related Stories

Smoking in bar entrances increases presence of nicotine inside, study finds

June 14, 2013
For the first time, a study has analysed the effects of the modification to the Spanish tobacco control law, implemented in 2011 in hospitality venues in Spain. The findings show that smoking on terraces and in the entrances ...

Europe-wide study finds long-term exposure to even low levels of air pollution increases risk of lung cancer

July 9, 2013
Prolonged exposure to particulate air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer (particularly adenocarcinoma) even at levels below the European Union limit values, according to one of the largest studies of its kind published ...

Air pollution increases heart attacks

October 7, 2013
Air pollution increases heart attacks, according to research presented at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013 by Dr Savina Nodari from Brescia, Italy. The Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013 is the annual meeting of the Acute ...

Ashtray availability, signage may determine success of smoke-free legislation

September 4, 2013
Signs banning smoking may not have as much of an impact on secondhand smoke concentrations as the presence of ashtrays or ashtray equivalents, according to research published September 4 in the open access journal PLOS ONE ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Dave Copeland
not rated yet Oct 30, 2013
So...let's get this straight. There's now 90% less tobacco related toxins in the air of a smokefree cafe, compared to a smokefilled café? Is this supposed to be a surprise scientific finding? Taken in context, all this means is that there's 90% less smoke in the air! It's nothing more than an interesting mix of tricky distortions of truth, capped by a simple lie. Similar studies have been done all over the place where bans have gone into effect, and guess what... they ALWAYS find less smoke when no one is smoking, and the 'scientists' get to walk out with as much as $100,000 in their pockets for their trouble!
What isn't mentioned, however, is that these 'killer' levels of smokey toxins, are less than 1% of the levels that OSHA considers a workplace safety hazard. By reducing a hazard that was 100x beneath OSHAs safe levels to begin with, it appears that the only people benefiting from these bans are the researchers and their Big Pharma paymasters!
not rated yet Oct 30, 2013
A 90% reduction of 'nothing to worry about in the first place' = nothing. What unbelievably santimonious twaddle.

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.