New Study Finds Dramatically Higher Levels of Dangerous Air Pollutants in Public Places in Armenia: Health Advocates Call for a Comprehensive Smoke-Free Workplace Law

Yerevan, Armenia (19.09.2006) – A new global air quality study released today shows that indoor air pollution is 89 percent lower in places that are smoke-free compared to those where smoking is allowed. The findings underscore the need to tighten the current legislation on smoke-free workplaces in Armenia.

This international study measured air pollution levels in 1280 restaurants, bars, transportation outlets and other public places in 24 countries, including Armenia.

Researchers of the Center for Health Services Research and Development at AUA tested 44 public venues in Armenia, including 35 where smoking was allowed. Air pollution levels in those 35 smoking venues (mostly food and entertainment venues) were nearly seven times higher than in public places in smoke-free Ireland.

The Law of the Republic of Armenia on Limitations on Tobacco Sale, Consumption and Usage (adopted on December 24, 2004) completely prohibits smoking only in educational, cultural and medical institutions; it does not restrict smoking in food and entertainment venues.

“This study shows why is it so important that tobacco control policies in Armenia cover all workplaces, including restaurants and bars,” said Dr. Narine Movsisyan. “Every time we are exposed to secondhand smoke, we are exposed to thousands of chemicals that cause cancer, heart disease and other serious respiratory conditions. None of us should have to put up with polluted air in order to earn a living or enjoy an evening out.”

This multinational study was conducted by researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Harvard School of Public Health, and was funded by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health. The researchers used state-of-the-art air monitors to measure the levels of fine particle air pollution, of which secondhand smoke is a major source. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that these fine particles can penetrate deep into human lungs, causing serious lung, heart and other health conditions.

Conducted between 2003 and 2006, the study included the following countries in which smoking was still allowed at the time of the study: Armenia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam. A complete list of air pollution levels inside restaurants and bars in countries around the world is available in the report, which can be found online at:

“It demonstrates that eliminating smoking in all indoor workplaces and public places is the most effective way to dramatically reduce the levels of harmful air pollutants in secondhand smoke. The key for public health is to have nations more quickly implement comprehensive smoke-free regulations to comply with the FCTC mandate,” said Dr. Andrew Hyland, Department of Health Behavior, at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY and author of the study.

Because of the overwhelming evidence that smoke-free laws protect health, there is growing momentum around the world to enact such laws. Along with Ireland and New Zealand, at least 10 other countries have enacted nationwide smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars. They are Norway, Uruguay, Scotland, Italy, Sweden, Malta, England (effective 2007), Lithuania (effective 2008), Iceland (effective 2007), Bermuda, Bhutan, and Northern Ireland (effective 2007).

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