Aug. 5 2015
NEW ORLEANS – As New Orleans celebrates 100 days of being smoke-free, a new study finds indoor air pollution levels have fallen dramatically in bars and the city’s casino since the smoke-free law was implemented on April 22, protecting the health of all workers, entertainers and patrons.
The level of fine particle air pollution fell by 96 percent in venues that had previously allowed smoking, and it was virtually eliminated in the casino, where there was a 99 percent reduction.
The study was conducted by nationally recognized indoor air quality researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. It used state-of-the-art air pollution monitors to measure the levels of fine particle air pollution in 13 bars and the one casino both before and after the smoke-free law took effect. According to the study, particles of this size (smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter) are released in significant amounts from burning cigarettes and are easily inhaled deep into the lungs, causing a variety of adverse health effects, including cardiovascular and respiratory disease and death.
The study concludes that New Orleans’ smoke-free ordinance is protecting the health of New Orleans workers, entertainers, residents and visitors: "This study demonstrates that employees and patrons in New Orleans bars and casinos are currently not exposed to hazardous levels of air pollution resulting from indoor smoking. New Orleans’s smoke-free air ordinance … is a proven means to significantly reduce exposure to toxic tobacco smoke pollution, which will improve quality of life and health outcomes for New Orleans workers, entertainers, residents and visitors."
Supporters of the law, including many in the public health community, said it is working as intended to protect the health and right to breathe clean air of hospitality workers, entertainers and patrons in New Orleans.
"We've heard from so many people in our bars, restaurants and casino who say they feel better and can breathe easier now without the stress of knowing they are in an unhealthy environment," said Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell, the ordinance’s chief sponsor. “The air is definitely cleaner in New Orleans – and the city has made a very smooth transition to this improvement. This makes it clear that we did the right thing."
"The smoke-free law has always been about protecting people's health by creating healthier air for all to enjoy," said Tonia Moore, associate director, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). "This study demonstrates conclusively that the law is protecting the health of New Orleans hospitality workers, entertainers and patrons who were previously endangered by the harmful air pollutants in secondhand smoke. They and their families have to be thrilled that they have significantly reduced their exposure to the harmful health effects of secondhand smoke, including increased risks of cancer and heart disease."
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. The U.S. Surgeon General has found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, serious respiratory illnesses, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, there is no safe level of exposure, and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection.
Key findings of the study include:
"This study reinforces what we know to be true: Smoking is a source of indoor air pollution and New Orleans' comprehensive smoking ordinance is making the air in restaurants, bars and casinos safer for everyone to breathe," said TFL’s Moore. "I hope our city and state leaders will carefully consider these results and reject any efforts to weaken the law."
More About the Study:
Study: New Orleans, Louisiana, Indoor Air Quality Monitoring Study (August 2015)