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No-Smoking Sections Are No Help

Designated areas offer little protection from secondhand smoke, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- There may not be much point in choosing the no-smoking section when you go out to a club or restaurant.

An Australian study in the current issue of Tobacco Control found smoking sections offer little or no protection from the detrimental health effects of secondhand smoke.

At the most, they halve levels of secondhand smoke, which is much less than nonsmokers might reasonably expect, the study authors say.

They studied 17 social and gaming clubs in and around Sydney. All the clubs had no-smoking areas, which were either designated sections or separate rooms. The researchers measured levels of atmospheric nicotine, particulate matter and carbon dioxide in the smoking and no-smoking areas.

Levels of nicotine and particulate matter were much lower in the no-smoking areas than in the smoking areas. But the researchers found a wide variation in these reduction levels, leading them to suspect there's no guarantee of a favorable impact on non-smokers.

There was little difference in levels of atmospheric nicotine and particulate matter between separate no-smoking rooms and designated no-smoking areas.

"No-smoking areas may provide some reduction in the level of exposure of individuals to environmental tobacco smoke. However, the reduction may be marginal or trivial," the study authors write.

They conclude regulations permitting clubs, bars, and casinos to allow smoking, provided there are designated non-smoking areas, are ineffective in protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about the health dangers of secondhand smoke.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Feb. 24, 2004
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