Effects of banning smoking in restaurants

by Pentti Huovinen Pentti Huovinen is a research professor and the head of the Department of Bacterial and Inflammatory Diseases at the Finnish National Public Health Institute. 28.07.2008

Latest research shows that the banning of smoking in restaurants has reduced heart attacks by as much as a fifth. Researchers in the University of California have analysed relevant studies undertaken after 2004. In all the studies it was observed that the restaurant smoking ban had had a direct effect. After the ban there was an immediate reduction in the number of heart infarct victims admitted to hospitals.

Beginning 2004 many countries have banned smoking in restaurants. Norway and Ireland were among the first. In Finland the law became effective over a year ago and more than 10 000 restaurants and bars became smoke-free. According to the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the legislation has already saved the lives of several restaurant workers and reduced the number of sick days by thousands. Forty thousand workers are no longer subjected to cigarette smoke in restaurants.

The ban on restaurant smoking has been more successful in the United States than in Italy and Ireland. This is also evident in the reduction of heart attacks. According to British Medical Journal, about a third of restaurant guests continue to be subjected to cigarette smoke in these two countries whereas in the United States the number is only one in six.

It has been estimated that 400 000 people have given up smoking altogether after restaurant smoking was banned in England in July last year. The ban has been calculated to prevent 40 000 deaths during the next 10 years. The dramatic reduction in the number of smokers following the ban has come as a surprise to British researchers.

Irish researchers have pointed out that the ban on smoking has raised the quality of music in restaurants. Accordion repairmen tell us that the valves and reeds of the instruments have been noticeably cleaner since the ban came into effect. Accordions collect less dirt that distorts the tuning, and their tone and sound has improved.

Banning smoking in restaurants has thus proven an excellent measure for keeping clean various pipes in musical instruments as well as in humans.

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