Objectives: A workplace-smoking ban in the Netherlands was introduced on January 1, 2004. Before the ban male and low educated employees were at higher risk for exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Effective implementation of the ban should result not only in an overall decline of exposure, but also in the disappearance of systematic differences in exposure between subgroups of employees.
Methods: Data from a Dutch continuous Internet survey were used. From July 2003 through June 2005, 200 respondents were randomly selected each week. The sample consisted of 11,291 non-smoking, working respondents, aged 16-65 years.
Results: ETS exposure decreased among all employees and among subgroups at higher risk before the ban. However, also after the ban, males and low educated employees were still most likely to be exposed to ETS.
Conclusions: The workplace-smoking ban was effective in reducing ETS exposure among employees. However, after the ban still 52.2% of non-smoking workers reported to be exposed. We did not find the expected stronger effect among employees who were at higher risk. Both before and after implementation of the ban, males and lower educated employees were about two times more likely to be exposed to ETS.