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Open Access Research article

Environmental tobacco smoke in hospitality venues in Greece

Constantine I Vardavas1*, Barbara Kondilis2, Mark J Travers3, Elisabeth Petsetaki4, Yiannis Tountas5 and Anthony G Kafatos1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Greece

2 Hellenic American University, Athens, Greece

3 Roswell Park Cancer Institute, USA

4 National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece

5 Center for Health Services Research, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Greece

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:302  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-302

Published: 23 October 2007

Abstract

Background

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is a major threat to public health. Greece, having the highest smoking prevalence in the European Union is seriously affected by passive smoking. The purpose of this study was to measure environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure in the non smoking areas of hospitality venues and offices in Greece and to compare the levels of exposure to levels in the US, UK and Ireland before and after the implementation of a smoking ban.

Methods

Experimental measurements of particulate matter 2.5 μm (PM2.5), performed during a cross sectional study of 49 hospitality venues and offices in Athens and Crete, Greece during February – March 2006.

Results

Levels of ETS ranged from 19 μg/m3 to 612 μg/m3, differing according to the place of measurement. The average exposure in hospitality venues was 268 μg/m3 with ETS levels found to be highest in restaurants with a mean value of 298 μg/m3 followed by bars and cafes with 271 μg/m3. ETS levels were 76% lower in venues in which smoking was not observed compared to all other venues (p < 0.001). ETS levels in Greek designated non-smoking areas are similar to those found in the smoking sections of UK hospitality venues while levels in Ireland with a total smoking ban are 89% lower and smoke-free communities in the US are 91 – 96% lower than levels in Greece.

Conclusion

Designated non-smoking areas of hospitality venues in Greece are significantly more polluted with ETS than outdoor air and similar venues in Europe and the United States. The implementation of a total indoor smoking ban in hospitality venues has been shown to have a positive effect on workers and patrons' health. The necessity of such legislation in Greece is thus warranted.