Smoking ban in workplaces reduces cardiovascular risk for workers

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We have recently talked about a new EU smoking law and smoking policies in different countries, amongst which Switzerland. You may have heard about Switzerland in the news the last couple of days in relation to the result of the latest referendum on immigration. Swiss direct democracy means that the people here vote for a lot of things ranging from whether you would like a new department store to be built in your village or whether you would like more paid holidays (which was, by the way, rejected)  to public health issues, like smoking bans.

As you may have guessed, this blogpost is not about the department store or the holidays but about the smoking! Switzerland introduced a smoking ban a few years ago. There are, however, some differences on how the law is implemented from canton to canton: some cantons allow smoking in small establishments or specially designated areas in restaurants and bars and some of which are served by waiters and waitresses.

This provided researchers with a special opportunity: a quasi experimental design to see the differences between smoking and non-smoking venues before and after the introduction of the ban. We have previously reported about improved health in the service personnel in places where the ban was introduced as well as no impact of the smoking ban on the the revenue of gastronomy business in one canton.

We just published another study which sought to investigate the effect of second hand smoke on heart rate variability (HRV) and pulse wave velocity (PWV), both indicators of cardiovascular risk. They measured these indicators in 55 non-smoking hospitality workers before and 3–12 months after a smoking ban and compared them to a control group that did not experience an exposure change.

The authors report that both PWV and HRV parameters significantly changed in a dose-dependent manner in the intervention group as compared to the control group. They conclude that the  introduction of smoke-free workplaces in hospitality venues substantially lowers cardiovascular risk factors in non-smoking hospitality workers, something that emphasizes the need for authorities worldwide to implement comprehensive policies to prevent adverse health effects.

 

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This study was conducted by Sarah Rajkumar ,  Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss, Gregory A. Wellenius, Georg Bauer, Cong Khanh Huynh, Alexander Möller, and Martin Röösli

 

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