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Exposure of hospitality workers to environmental tobacco smoke
  1. M N Bates*,
  2. J Fawcett,
  3. S Dickson,
  4. R Berezowski,
  5. N Garrett
  1. Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd, PO Box 50-348, Porirua, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Michael Bates, School of Public Health, 140 Warren Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA;


Objective: To determine quantitatively the extent of exposure of hospitality workers to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure during the course of a work shift, and to relate these results to the customer smoking policy of the workplace.

Subjects: Three categories of non-smoking workers were recruited: (1) staff from hospitality premises (bars and restaurants) that permitted smoking by customers; (2) staff from smokefree hospitality premises; and (3) government employees in smokefree workplaces. All participants met with a member of the study team before they began work, and again at the end of their shift or work day. At each meeting, participants answered questions from a standardised questionnaire and supplied a saliva sample.

Main outcome measures: Saliva samples were analysed for cotinine. The difference between the first and second saliva sample cotinine concentrations indicated the degree of exposure to ETS over the course of the work shift.

Results: Hospitality workers in premises allowing smoking by customers had significantly greater increases in cotinine than workers in smokefree premises. Workers in hospitality premises with no restrictions on customer smoking were more highly exposed to ETS than workers in premises permitting smoking only in designated areas.

Conclusions: Overall, there was a clear association between within-shift cotinine concentration change and smoking policy. Workers in premises permitting customer smoking reported a higher prevalence of respiratory and irritation symptoms than workers in smokefree workplaces. Concentrations of salivary cotinine found in exposed workers in this study have been associated with substantial involuntary risks for cancer and heart disease.

  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • cotinine
  • saliva
  • hospitality workers

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  • * Also the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA