Fine-particulate air pollution in Boise bars that permit smoking is 36 times worse than outdoor pollution levels in the valley, according to a new study by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute released today by the Coalition for a Healthy Idaho, and four times the EPA's standard for annual exposure. Testers actually went into 19 bars and restaurants in Boise, Meridian and Garden City in May and June, operated air quality monitors, and recorded how many people were there and how many cigarettes were burning. "Sampling was discreet in order not to disturb the occupants' normal behavior," the study reports. Its conclusion: The second-hand smoke is a health threat to those who work in the bars.
"This study shows precisely why city councils in Idaho should implement comprehensive smokefree ordinances covering all indoor workplaces and all workers," said Shauneen Grange, campaign coordinator for Smokefree Idaho, a group working for such bans. "The study demonstrates conclusively that the smokefree air law in Idaho is effectively protecting the health of workers and patrons from the health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants, while those in smoking-permitted bars are still exposed to hazardous levels of air contaminants."
Idaho law bans smoking in restaurants and, after lawmakers overrode a veto from Gov. Butch Otter, bowling alleys. But it doesn't ban it in bars where no one under 21 is allowed in. The sampling took place at 14 bars where smoking is permitted, one where the bar has chosen not to allow smoking, and four restaurants. The smoking-permitted bars were in the "hazardous" air quality range, while the other bar and the restaurants were down in the good to moderate range.