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Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jerry Carey
(856) 566-6171
(973) 972-7265

Study Finds That New Jersey Bars and Restaurants Have Nine Times More Air Pollution than Those in Smoke-Free New York

Are you planning your holiday party at a venue with dangerous levels of carcinogens and other pollutants in the air? If you are celebrating the holiday season at a bar or restaurant in New Jersey, the answer is probably yes.

A new study out today (December 14) indicates that bars and restaurants in New Jersey have more than nine times the levels of indoor air pollution compared with those in neighboring New York City, which does not allow smoking indoors.
The results of the study, conducted by researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., showed that patrons and workers in bars and restaurants in New Jersey were exposed to more than nine times the level of pollutants than those in New York City.

“These results indicate that it’s not just about having your clothes smell badly after a night out, but that the environment in these bars and restaurants is really unhealthy,” said Jonathan Foulds Ph.D., Director of the Tobacco Dependence Program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-School of Public Health. “In fact, for people who work in these polluted environments on a daily basis, it could mean the difference between whether or not they contract a serious disease.”

The researchers in the Roswell study used state-of-the-art air pollution monitors to measure the levels of fine particulate air pollution in bars and restaurants. They found New Jersey bars and restaurants averaged 231 micrograms/m3 while New York City bars and restaurants averaged 25 micrograms/m3.

“The results indicate that the levels of pollution in the New Jersey establishments were almost entirely caused by tobacco smoke,” said Andrew Hyland, Ph.D., principal investigator for the study. “The health risk is that these particles are easily inhaled deep into the lungs and can harm lung function and interfere with breathing.”

Tobacco smoke pollution contains thousands of chemicals, including several known to cause cancer, heart disease and breathing problems. Earlier this year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised persons with heart disease to avoid indoor settings where smoking is allowed because of the potential to trigger a heart attack.

“In the northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts and New York have all implemented a comprehensive statewide ban on smoking in indoor workplaces,” Dr. Foulds said. “However, New Jersey workers and patrons remain unprotected by this legislation.”

“New Jersey now has one of the lowest rates of cigarette smoking in the country – less than one in five,” he pointed out. “A smoke-free policy is more likely to improve business by attracting more non-smoking customers. Places that have implemented such a policy have consistently reported an increase in business receipts and employment.”

According to the 2004 Zagat New York City Restaurant Survey, which polled nearly 30,000 New York restaurant-goers, “the city’s recent smoking ban, far from curbing restaurant traffic, has given it a major lift,” Dr. Foulds said. “In fact, the survey reports that by a margin of almost 6-1, respondents said they are eating out more often because of the city’s smoke-free workplace policy. “

Support for smoke-free legislation is at an all-time high in New Jersey, as indicated by a poll released today by New Jersey Breathes that indicates that 74 percent of all New Jersey residents favor a statewide law that would prohibit smoking inside all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. Almost 400 local governments and organizations in New Jersey have passed resolutions in support of smoke-free air policy.

Larry Downs, spokesperson for New Jersey Breathes, said, “These recent studies show that a smoke-free workplace law is a win-win for every community.”

The Roswell Park Cancer Institute air-monitoring study was funded by grants from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute and the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids.

The copy of the full report on indoor air pollution, as well as links to other scientific studies on the effects of tobacco smoke pollution can be found at:

Useful links regarding tobacco smoke pollution are:

  • Sargent et al (2004) study showing reductions in heart attacks after implementation of a smoke-free policy.
  • CDC Commentary on Montana Study, published in the British Medical Journal
  • Study showing improvements in air quality in hospitality venues before and after implementation of clean indoor air law in New York.
  • Research on tobacco use in New Jersey (including reports focusing on smoke-free workplaces, bars and restaurants in New Jersey) conducted by the Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Research Program at UMDNJ-School of Public Health.


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