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Severe fine particulate matter pollution through cigarette smoke

(Vienna, 21st February 2011) Fine particulate matter measurements by the MedUni Vienna in Vienna’s pubs and restaurants show alarming levels of particulate matter. 91 percent of customers feel affected in some way according to an accompanying opinion poll.

91 percent of the 1,590 customers asked in Vienna’s pubs and restaurants feel affected by cigarette smoke in some way. Amongst non-smokers it is almost one hundred percent, and even amongst smokers more than 80 percent. That is one of the main results from an extensive opinion poll in the context of a degree dissertation at the Institute for Environmental Hygiene of the MedUni Vienna, which was conducted in the first six months of 2010. The majority of those asked were in favour of a general smoking ban in pubs, according to scientists.

“We asked 1,590 people in 81 pubs in Vienna. 52 percent of whom were women and 48 percent were men. 52 percent were non-smokers, 10 percent were occasional smokers and 38 percent were smokers”, said Maria-Anna Gasser, author of a degree dissertation for the MedUni Vienna, in the context of which she had conducted the survey. The opinion poll was performed by means of a questionnaire which had been produced by the Institute for Medical Psychology in Graz.

It is interesting to note that whether as a smoker or non-smoker, a smoky atmosphere in pubs, where people may be eating, and where it acts like “background music” with the later problem of foul-smelling clothes, is evidently now considered to be on its way out. Maria-Anna Gasser says “More than 90 percent of those asked are bothered by smoke in some form. Amongst non-smokers it is almost one hundred percent, and amongst smokers also over 80 percent."

According to the study author, a further finding from the test subjects, who were made up of a higher proportion of tobacco consumers than in Austria’s general population, was that, “on the whole the majority of those asked are now in favour of a general smoking ban (in pubs, author’s note), and indeed 70 percent of non-smokers, 47 percent of occasional smokers and 25 percent of smokers.” 58 percent of those asked were currently dissatisfied with the rules that currently apply in Austria.

Extreme fine particulate matter pollution in pubs, where people can smoke, has been recorded by air measurements in Vienna. Manfred Neuberger, Head of the Department for Preventative Medicine at the Institute for Environmental Hygiene of the MedUni Vienna stated “the threshold for fine particulate matter pollution in ambient air is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. In an averagely affected smoking pub there have been recordings of 600 micrograms per cubic meter of air.” The air in completely non-smoking pubs is the cleanest in this respect, according to an examination by the Institute in Vienna in 112 food establishments. Separate smoking areas also affect the air in non-smoking areas.