The present study examined the reduction in exposure to tobacco smoke in German hospitality venues following the implementation of a partial smoking ban by measuring the indoor air concentration of PM(2.5) in 2005 and 2009, that is, before and after the legislation was implemented.
The concentration of respirable suspended particles (PM(2.5)) in the indoor air of German hospitality venues was measured using a laser photometer (AM510). The prelegislation sample from 2005 included 80 venues of which 58 could be revisited in 2009. After replenishment, the postlegislation sample consisted of 79 venues.
Compared with the prelegislation measurement, the concentration of PM(2.5) in hospitality venues was reduced significantly after introduction of the smoke-free legislation. The median mass concentration of PM(2.5) was reduced by 87.1% in coffee bars, by 88.7% in restaurants, by 66.3% in bars, and by 90.8% in discotheques. Notably, legal exemptions to the smoking ban are an issue: At the postlegislation measurement in 2009, the mass concentrations of PM(2.5) were substantially higher in venues allowing smoking in the whole venue or in a designated smoking room than in completely smoke-free venues.
The German smoke-free legislation significantly reduced the levels of respirable suspended particles in the indoor air of hospitality venues, benefiting the health of employees and patrons alike. But legal exemptions attenuated the effectiveness of the policy.