Impact of the Spanish smoking law on exposure to secondhand smoke in offices and hospitality venues: before-and-after study

Environ Health Perspect. 2009 Mar;117(3):344-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.11845. Epub 2008 Sep 19.


Background/objectives: A smoking law was passed by the Spanish Parliament in December 2005 and was enforced by 1 January 2006. The law bans smoking in all indoor workplaces but only in some hospitality venues, because owners are allowed to establish a smoking zone (venues>100 m2) or to allow smoking without restrictions (venues<100 m2). The objective of the study is to assess the impact of the Spanish smoking law on exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) in enclosed workplaces, including hospitality venues.

Materials and methods: The study design is a before-and-after evaluation. We studied workplaces and hospitality venues from eight different regions of Spain. We took repeated samples of vapor-phase nicotine concentration in 398 premises, including private offices (162), public administration offices (90), university premises (43), bars and restaurants (79), and discotheques and pubs (24).

Results: In the follow-up period, SHS levels were markedly reduced in indoor offices. The median decrease in nicotine concentration ranged from 60.0% in public premises to 97.4% in private areas. Nicotine concentrations were also markedly reduced in bars and restaurants that became smoke-free (96.7%) and in the no-smoking zones of venues with separate spaces for smokers (88.9%). We found no significant changes in smoking zones or in premises allowing smoking, including discotheques and pubs.

Conclusions: Overall, this study shows the positive impact of the law on reducing SHS in indoor workplaces. However, SHS was substantially reduced only in bars and restaurants that became smoke-free. Most hospitality workers continue to be exposed to very high levels of SHS. Therefore, a 100% smoke-free policy for all hospitality venues is required.

Keywords: evaluation; hospitality sector; secondhand smoke; smoking law; workplaces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Inhalation Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Restaurants
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Spain
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Workplace


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution