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Study: Bartenders' health better after California smoking ban

Researchers say the health of bartenders improved after California banned smoking in bars.  
December 20, 1998
Web posted at: 8:31 a.m. EST (1331 GMT)

From San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- A new law in California seems to be improving the health of bartenders.

Just after the state outlawed smoking in bars last January, the University of California-San Francisco studied 53 city barkeeps.

Before the law, three-quarters of them suffered from lung ailments. After the law, symptoms for 60 percent dropped away completely.

"If you worked a weekend in here before you would be hoarse," said bartender Bill Hackim. "It's not like that anymore."

Health benefits appeared quickly

"After the law went into effect we observed a substantial reduction in respiratory symptoms of eye, nose and throat irritation symptoms," said researcher Dr. Mark Eisner.

Before the ban, bartenders were exposed to an average of 28 hours per week of smokey rooms  

Before the ban, bartenders were exposed to an average of 28 hours per week of smokey rooms.

"I don't smell like an ashtray, and my girlfriend is happy with that," said bartender Greg Russell.

The improvement was quick and dramatic. Specifically lung tests showed bartenders had 4 percent better lung capacity just four weeks after the smoking ban.

Health benefits applied not just to non-smoking bartenders, but smokers showed better lung capacity as well.

"Less coughing, less wheezing, less shortness of breath," Eisner said.

Bars had long been the last legal indoor spot for smokers in California. Some business worried the ban would drive customers away. So far, it has not.

"In fact, if someone tries to light up in here, someone typically comes up to us and asks us to have them put it out," Hackim said.

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