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Secondhand smoke levels in Scottish bars 5 years on from the introduction of smoke-free legislation
  1. Andrew Apsley1,
  2. Sean Semple1,2
  1. 1Scottish Centre for Indoor Air, Division of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  2. 2Scottish Centre for Indoor Air, Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sean Semple, Scottish Centre for Indoor Air, Division of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB25 2ZP, UK; sean.semple{at}


Objective To determine current secondhand smoke (SHS) concentrations in bars previously assessed as part of an evaluation of Scottish smoke-free legislation 5 years ago.

Design Comparison between SHS levels measured in 2006 and 2011 in 39 pubs in 2 Scottish cities.

Methods Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was measured discreetly for 30 min in each bar on one or two visits 5 years after the previous visit in May/June 2006. These 5-year follow-up visits were undertaken on the same day of the week and at approximately the same time of day.

Results Average PM2.5 levels measured in a total of 51 bar visits in 2011 were 12 μg/m3 (range 2–155 μg/m3) compared to 20 μg/m3 (range 6–104 μg/m3) in the period immediately after the ban in 2006. Fine particulate concentrations in all but two visits in 2011 were comparable to PM2.5 levels measured in outside ambient air on the same day, with 92% of visits (n=47) providing 30-min average PM2.5 concentrations less than 25 μg/m3.

Conclusions These results are one of the longest follow-up of any national smoke-free legislation and indicate that, 5 years after introduction, compliance is high and that the legislation continues to provide bar workers and non-smoking customers protection from SHS.

  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • inhalation exposure
  • hospitality sector
  • public health
  • exposure assessment
  • secondhand smoke

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  • Funding This work was funded by a studentship grant from NHS Health Scotland.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.