Bar workers' exposure to second-hand smoke: The effect of Scottish smoke-free legislation on occupational exposure

Sean Semple, Laura Maccalman, Audrey Atherton-Naji, Scott Dempsey, Shona Hilton, Brian G. Miller, Jon Ayres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

95 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To examine changes in bar workers' exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) over a 12-month period before and after the introduction of Scottish smoke-free legislation on the 26 March 2006.

Methods: A total of 371 bar workers were recruited from 72 bars in three cities: Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and small towns in two rural regions (Borders and Aberdeenshire). Prior to the introduction of the smoke-free legislation, we visited all participants in their place of work and collected saliva samples, for the measurement of cotinine, together with details on work patterns, self-reported exposure to SHS at work and non-work settings and smoking history. This was repeated 2 months post-legislation and again in the spring of 2007. In addition, we gathered fullshift personal exposure data from a small number of Aberdeen bar workers using a personal aerosol monitor for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at the baseline and 2 months post-legislation visits.

Results: Data were available for 371 participants at baseline, 266 (72%) at 2 months post-legislation and 191 (51%) at the 1-year follow-up. The salivary cotinine level recorded in non-smokers fell from a geometric mean of 2.94 ng ml(-1) prior to introduction of the legislation to 0.41 ng ml(-1) at 1-year follow-up. Paired data showed a reduction in non-smokers' cotinine levels of 89% [95% confidence interval (CI) 85-92%]. For the whole cohort, the duration of workplace exposure to SHS within the last 7 days fell from 28.5 to 0.83 h, though some bar workers continued to report substantial SHS exposures at work despite the legislation. Smokers also demonstrated reductions in their salivary cotinine levels of 12% (95% CI 3-20%). This may reflect both the reduction in SHS exposure at work and falls in active cigarette smoking in this group. In a small sub-sample of bar workers, full-shift personal exposure to PM2.5, a marker of SHS concentrations, showed average reductions of 86% between baseline and 2 months after implementation of the legislation.

Conclusions: Most bar workers have experienced very large reductions in their workplace exposure to SHS as a result of smoke-free legislation in Scotland. These reductions have been sustained over a period of 1 year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-580
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Occupational Hygiene
Issue number7
Early online date10 Sept 2007
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • cotinine
  • particulate matter
  • second-hand smoke
  • environmental tobacco-smoke
  • secondhand smoke
  • respiratory health
  • passive smoking
  • public places
  • nicotine
  • Scotland
  • adults
  • impact


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