Staff 'exposed to 86% less smoke'
Scotland's bar workers are now exposed to 86% less smoke following the ban on smoking in enclosed public places, according to new research.
The results were revealed to Holyrood's health committee as it considers the effectiveness of the ban, which came into effect on 26 March.
Aberdeen University researchers have been commissioned to study the effect the law has had on air quality in pubs.
They said the air quality inside most bars was now comparable with outdoors.
The Aberdeen University team and the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh measured the air quality inside 41 Scottish pubs in the two months leading up to the ban and again in May and June 2006.
The researchers also carried out studies with 371 bar workers from across Scotland to investigate respiratory health.
However, the complete results of the study will not be available until the end of the year.
Professor Jon Ayres of Aberdeen University, who is leading the research, said: "These findings confirm the dramatic effect that smoking cessation in pubs and bars can have on air quality.
"This can only be to the benefit of bar staff and customers alike.
"It will be of great interest to see the results of our health assessments from this largest ever study of the effects of a smoking ban on bar workers' health."
Health Minister Andy Kerr welcomed the findings.
He said: "Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke was one of the main problems the smoking ban was designed to tackle.
"This research proves it's working.
"I welcome the fact the damage to health that passive smoking may once have done is no longer affecting staff and customers in Scotland's pubs, bars and restaurants."
Mr Kerr later criticised the example being set by celebrities who smoke, like supermodel Kate Moss.
At the meeting of the parliament's health committee, he was asked why so many young girls continued to take up smoking.
Mr Kerr said: "I think it's fashion, I think it's peer groups, I think the media icons, Kate Moss and others - some can have a positive influence on our young people and some can have a negative influence."
He said celebrities should look at their behaviour to ensure that they were not setting a "very dangerous" example for youngsters.
Speaking about Moss, he added: "I would ask her to refrain in terms of public smoking and understand the impact she's having on young people's lives."