Background: A smoke-free law came into effect in Spain on 1st January 2006, affecting all enclosed workplaces except hospitality venues, whose proprietors can choose among totally a smoke-free policy, a partial restriction with designated smoking areas, or no restriction on smoking on the premises. We aimed to evaluate the impact of the law among hospitality workers by assessing second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure and the frequency of respiratory symptoms before and one year after the ban.
Methods and finding: We formed a baseline cohort of 431 hospitality workers in Spain and 45 workers in Portugal and Andorra. Of them, 318 (66.8%) were successfully followed up 12 months after the ban, and 137 nonsmokers were included in this analysis. We obtained self-reported exposure to SHS and the presence of respiratory symptoms, and collected saliva samples for cotinine measurement. Salivary cotinine decreased by 55.6% after the ban among nonsmoker workers in venues where smoking was totally prohibited (from median of 1.6 ng/ml before to 0.5 ng/ml, p<0.01). Cotinine concentration decreased by 27.6% (p = 0.068) among workers in venues with designated smoking areas, and by 10.7% (p = 0.475) among workers in venues where smoking was allowed. In Portugal and Andorra, no differences between cotinine concentration were found before (1.2 ng/ml) and after the ban (1.2 ng/ml). In Spain, reported respiratory symptom declined significantly (by 71.9%; p<0.05) among workers in venues that became smoke-free. After adjustment for potential confounders, salivary cotinine and respiratory symptoms decreased significantly among workers in Spanish hospitality venues where smoking was totally banned.
Conclusions: Among nonsmoker hospitality workers in bars and restaurants where smoking was allowed, exposure to SHS after the ban remained similar to pre-law levels. The partial restrictions on smoking in Spanish hospitality venues do not sufficiently protect hospitality workers against SHS or its consequences for respiratory health.