The Chilean newspaper La Tercera reported on Sunday, March 13, 2011, that the government of Chile is enacting significant changes to the regulations governing smoking in public places. In the article, the Minister of Health, Jaime Mañalich, indicates that the government is banning smoking in bars and nightclubs because of a particular scientific study showing that separated areas are ineffective and do not appreciably limit the amount of smoke that employees and non-smoking patrons inhale. The newspaper identifies the crucial study as that conducted by Johns Hopkins University in collaboration with the University of Chile and published in the journal Tobacco Control in December 2010 under the title "Secondhand Tobacco Smoke in Bars and Restaurants in Santiago, Chile: Evaluation of Partial Smoking Ban Legislation in Public Places."
The study’s last-named author is Welch Center core faculty member Ana Navas-Acien, MD, PhD. The study is part of the international work in bars and nightclubs to which she contributes. In Chile, Dr. Navas-Acien and a colleague from the Environmental Health Sciences department worked with researchers at the University of Chile and the Ministry of Health. The study was published at a critical moment, when discussion of the smoking ban was very heated in the Chilean parliament, Dr. Navas-Acien observes. The impact of the study’s finding is apparent from the recent change in regulations.
Kudos to Dr. Navas-Acien for research that yields health benefits worldwide!