Background: In 2007, Israel passed a law to extend existing restrictions on smoking in public places and to strengthen enforcement. Responsibility for ensuring smoke-free indoor public places was placed on establishment owners. Bars and pubs were included in the law for the first time. This study aimed to assess changes in air quality in popular Israeli bars, pubs and cafes after the implementation of law, and to examine changes in patron numbers, percentage of smoking patrons and venue-seating sections.
Methods: Air quality was determined by measuring respirable suspended particles (PM(2.5) μg(-3)) in 33 randomly selected venues in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, including bars, pubs and cafes, before and after law implementation. Numbers of patrons and smoking patrons were recorded.
Results: Average respirable small particles (RSP) level was 245 μg(-3) prior to implementation and 161 μg(-3) following implementation of the law, representing a decline of 34% (P = 0.0043). RSP levels decreased in bars and pubs and in cafes. Percentage of smoking patrons declined from 19% to 9% (P = 0.0036). The magnitude of the effect decreased over time (P = 0.0039). Non-smoking establishments were more common following the legislation (P = 0.0047).
Conclusion: Indoor air pollution from second-hand smoke in Israeli bars, pubs and cafes in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv declined following the implementation of law. This demonstrates that a law to extend existing restrictions and enforcement policies may help protect workers and patrons from tobacco smoke. However, RSP levels in Israeli bars and pubs, especially in Tel Aviv, remain unacceptably high. Enforced, 100% smoke-free laws are essential for complete protection.