Does an Outdoor Smoking Ban Mean Less Damage?

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Immune System | Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 12:45 PM

Second hand smoke has been associated with various respiratory diseases and cancer.  Does banning outdoor smoking really help decrease second hand smoke exposure?

Several medical reports have shown that cigarette smoking may result in major health damage, including the development of lung cancer and other respiratory and systemic diseases.  Health organizations have also campaigned for quit smoking programs, even providing nicotine supplements to those who are seriously considering cutting this habit.

Quit Smoking Altogether – The Severe Damage

Most public establishments have also banned smoking, identifying specific areas outside the building as designated smoking areas.  Cigarette boxes now also show graphic images of the potential damage of smoking, with the hope that these photos may convince a smoker to quit smoking.  Several actions to decrease cigarette smoking are now in place, including the ban to indoor smoking and putting graphic photos on cigarette boxes.  However, it is interesting to find out whether these activities are enough to decrease the potential health damage due to smoking.

Second Hand Smoke Exposure Still There With Smoking Ban

According to a recent medical report, the outdoor smoking ban may not be as effective in preventing possible health damage in exposed individuals.  Second hand smoke pertains to the cigarette smoke emitted by a cigarette, as well as the smoke that is exhaled by a smoking individual.  Studies have shown that second hand smoke may actually cause more damage to heath compared to the possible effects of direct smoking.

The recent medical report presented the results of a study conducted in restaurants and bars that implemented specific smoking areas outside the facility.  The researchers measured the amount of nicotine and other particles associated with cigarette smoke in various areas of the establishment.  Although smoking was banned inside the restaurants and bars, the study also measured the levels of cigarette particles within the building.  Particle measurements were conducted in approximately 32 European restaurants and bars from 2009 to 2011.

The Study Results on the No Smoking Ban

The results of the study were quite astonishing, with higher levels of outdoor nicotine detected in venues that banned indoor smoking, compared to outdoor levels in places that had designated indoor smoking areas.  Furthermore, the amount of second hand smoke in venues that banned outdoor smoking was actually higher than places without outdoor smoking bans.

The authors of the medical report explained that the higher levels of second hand smoke in places that ban outdoor smoking further concentrated the amount of smoke in a specific area.  It is thus possible that cigarette smoke diffused to the rest of the site, including the indoor areas.  The authors also showed that the use of semi-enclosed areas for smoking pose a greater potential for health damage because it concentrates cigarette smoke which would still eventually diffuse to the rest of the area.

RELATED READING: Staying Smoke Free and Going to Work

The medical report is very interesting because it presents direct evidence that the spread of cigarette smoke in the immediate atmosphere is hard to control.  The report has also shown that despite indoor and outdoor smoking bans, cigarette smoke has the capacity to diffuse to adjacent areas, exposing people to the chemicals present in the smoke.

Although health and government agencies have focused on preventing the possible health damage that may be caused by cigarette smoking, this recent medical report shows that banning smoking may not be the most effective method to quit smoking and prevent health damage.  The report has shown that banning outdoor and indoor smoking only displaces the cigarette smoke and thus may still expose the public to the cigarette smoke particles.  In order to decrease the risk for health problems due to cigarette smoking, it may therefore be best to simply quit smoking.

The findings presented in the medical report may be helpful to owners of public places, allowing them to understand that the use of designated smoking areas indoors and outdoors are actually not as effective as envisioned.  There may also be a need to find a better way of controlling the exposure of the public to second hand smoke

Popular Stories

Cart Items