As Northern Ireland prepares to mark 6 months smoke-free, new research by the Ulster Cancer Foundation reveals that Belfast bar staff are already experiencing the benefits of being smoke-free.
97% of bar-workers feel that their workplace is healthier and 93% believe that the introduction of smoke-free legislation has been a success.
These figures come from research conducted by the Ulster Cancer Foundation (UCF) which compared the health of bar staff before and after smoke-free legislation was introduced. It involved questioning over 200 bar workers across 36 central Belfast bars.
Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention, UCF said, "UCF campaigned for 30 years for smoke-free legislation to be introduced in Northern Ireland and we are delighted that it has been such a success, even within the first 6 months.
"The health benefits experienced by those who participated in the research are astounding. 33% of bar staff reported a drop in eye irritation; those experiencing a runny nose had reduced by 29%; sore throats were down by 24% and coughing by 22%.
"The real gain, of course, will be in the long term reduction of heart disease and cancers and we look forward to enjoying the health benefits that Scotland and the Republic of Ireland have already reported. Research in Scotland has demonstrated a 17% fall in hospital admissions for heart attacks in the first year after going smoke-free, compared to a 3% annual reduction in the decade before the legislation was introduced."
UCF's research reveals that before the legislation was introduced, 26% of bar staff felt that they would experience problems enforcing it but after its introduction, only 5% reported enforcement difficulties.
81% of bar staff, including 67% of those staff who smoke, were glad that the smoke-free legislation had been introduced. One bar worker who welcomed the new smokefree legislation was 61 year old Gerry Vernon, who has worked in bars for the last 45 years and is currently with the Kitchen Bar in Belfast.
Gerry says, "My quality of life and my general health has greatly improved. As I got older my asthma was getting gradually worse and I even ended up in hospital. I'd always tried to keep fit but of course working in a smoky atmosphere wasn't helping at all. The difference that working in a smoke-free environment has made to my life is unbelievable - I'm out running 5 or 6 nights a week and can easily clock up 30-40 miles a week - that's not bad going for a 61 year old!
"I've been astounded at the success of the smoke-free legislation. My only regret is that it wasn't introduced 20 years ago. The impact it's had on my working day is enormous and it's now a pleasure to work in a pub!"
Yes but is it really, as a smoker, i a little bitter that the descision was not left with the pubs themselfs to decide wether to wanted to be smoke free or not, and if they decided to be smoking then measures would be needed to provide ventilation, and the staff were smokers job done with little expense to the tax payer
Just a point, and i would also like to know WHO thinks it's a big success, also how can cancer research base health figures on only 6 months, 200 bar workers what were they asked "hows your cough this month"