Effects of a smoke-free law on hair nicotine and respiratory symptoms of restaurant and bar workers

J Occup Environ Med. 2006 Sep;48(9):906-13. doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000215709.09305.01.


Objective: Bar and restaurant workers' exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) was compared before and 3 and 6 months after implementation of a smoke-free ordinance.

Methods: Hair nicotine, self-reported exposure to SHS, and respiratory symptoms were assessed on 105 smoking and nonsmoking workers from randomly selected establishments in Lexington, Kentucky. Thirty-eight percent were current smokers with more than half smoking 10 or fewer cigarettes per day. Workers provided a hair sample at baseline and at the 3-month interview.

Results: There was a significant decline in hair nicotine 3 months postlaw when controlling for cigarettes smoked per day. Bar workers showed a significantly larger decline in hair nicotine compared with restaurant workers. The only significant decline in SHS exposure was in the workplace and other public places. Regardless of smoking status, respiratory symptoms declined significantly postlaw.

Conclusions: Hospitality workers demonstrated significant declines in hair nicotine and respiratory symptoms after the law. Comprehensive smoke-free laws can provide the greatest protection to bar workers who are the most vulnerable to SHS exposure at work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Kentucky
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / metabolism*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Restaurants*
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine