Objectives: The Finnish Tobacco Act was amended on 1 March 2000 to include restrictions on smoking in restaurants and bars. To evaluate the effectiveness of the restrictions, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) concentrations in restaurants and bars were measured prior and after the amended Act entered into force. The Act was enforced in stages so that all stages were effective on 1 July 2003. According to the Act, smoking is prohibited in all Finnish restaurants and bars with certain exceptions. Smoking may be allowed in establishments where the service area is not larger than 50 m2 if the exposure of employees working there to ETS can be prevented. On premises with larger service area, smoking may be allowed on 50% of the service area, provided tobacco smoke does not spread into the area where smoking is prohibited. At bar counters or gambling tables smoking is not allowed, if the spreading of tobacco smoke cannot be restricted to the employee side of the counter. Therefore, according to the Act all areas where smoking is prohibited are to be smoke-free. Methods: Establishments with a serving area larger than 100 m2 were selected for the present study. The evaluation both before and after the enforcement of the Act included the following: The ventilation rate was first measured in each establishment. Then 3–5 area samplers, depending on the layout, were placed in locations that best described the establishment and the working areas of the personnel. The measurements were performed twice at each establishment, during peak hours. The sample collection time was 4 h during which the guests and the cigarettes smoked were counted. The air samples were analysed for nicotine, 3-ethenylpyridine (3-EP) and total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) by thermodesorption–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Results: Altogether 20 restaurants and bars situated in three Finnish cities participated in the study out of which 16 participated during all four measurement periods. None of the establishments had introduced a total ban on smoking and they all had reserved only the smallest area allowed by the Finnish Tobacco Act as the smoke-free area. The measured geometric mean (GM) nicotine concentration in all participating establishments was 7.1 μg m−3 before the amended act was in force and 7.3 μg m−3 after all stages of the Act had been enforced. The GM concentration of nicotine in food and dining restaurants was 0.7 μg m−3 before and 0.6 μg m−3 after the enforcement of the Act, in bars and taverns the concentrations were 10.6 and 12.7 μg m−3, and in discos and night-clubs 15.2 and 8.1 μg m−3, respectively. The GM nicotine concentrations measured in the smoke-free sections varied between 2.9 and 3 μg m−3. 3-EP concentrations measured correlated well with the nicotine concentrations and were approximately one-fifth of the nicotine concentrations. The measurements showed higher TVOC values in the smoking sections than in the smoke-free sections, but because there are many other sources of TVOC compounds in restaurants and bars TVOC cannot be regarded as a marker for ETS. Conclusions: The overall air nicotine concentration decreased in 10 out of the 18 establishments that participated in the study both before and after all stages of the amended Act had been in force. Structural changes or changes to the ventilation systems had been carried out in nine of these establishments, i.e. the smoke-free sections were actually non-smoking and were mainly separated from other sections by signs and very little was done to keep the smoke from spreading into the smoke-free sections. In four establishments, the highest air nicotine concentration was measured in the smoke-free section. In 10 establishments, the air nicotine concentration at bar counters had dropped after the Act. Exposure of the workers and the public to ETS was, therefore, not reduced as intended by the Finnish legislature. Thus, it seems obvious from the present study that improving ventilation will not be a solution to restricting tobacco smoke from reaching smoke-free areas and physical barriers separating smoking from smoke-free areas are required.
- environmental smoke