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Smokers Lighting Up Next to Entrances Pollute Venue Air Quality, Study

Update Date: Jun 14, 2013 01:19 PM EDT

Smokers who light up next to entrances should think about taking a step back, according to new research.

Researchers analyzed the effects of the 2011 Spanish smoking ban in hospitality venues for the first time found that lighting up on terraces and in the entrances of bars and restaurants increases the concentration of nicotine and particulate matter inside establishments.

While smoking in bars is now a thing of the past, Spanish scientists found that smoking outside entrances diminishes the protection of the 2011 smoking ban in hospitality venues.

"Having studied hospitality venues in Madrid, Galicia and Catalonia, we found a 90 percent decrease in the presence of nicotine and particulate matter in suspension, attributable to the regulations that have been in place for the last two years," lead researcher Maria José López of the Barcelona Public Health Agency said in a news release.

The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found more nicotine and increased presence of particles in bars where clients smoked outside.  Researchers said the latest findings highlight the risks associated with incomplete protection for employees and customers.

Researchers compared samples from the same establishments before and after the smoking ban in January 2011.

They found that the mean concentration of nicotine in the atmosphere in venues with smokers outside was 1.13 µg/cubic meter (m3), compared to 0.41 µg/m3 in venues where people weren't allowed to smoke outside.

Researchers said that the 90 percent reduction in the presence of nicotine and particular matter support previous findings of similar studies in other European countries like Scotland and Ireland.

"The same occurred in Uruguay, where implementation of the law led to a 91% reduction in the presence of secondary smoke in catering venues," López said.

"The 2011 modification of the law represents an extraordinary step forward in the protection of workers' and clients' health," she said.  However, López notes that the levels of exposure in outside areas should be analyzed further and that the need to establish smoking restrictions in certain places should be considered by policy makers.

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