Despite the tobacco industry’s many decades spent telling us that cigarettes are perfectly fine, nowadays everyone understands that smoking is harmful. Research using cells from mice has found an interesting twist however: cigarette smoke may help prevent allergies.
Scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands extracted mast cells from mice and treated them with a cigarette smoke-infused solution. Mast cells play a key role in the inflammatory process and the body’s response to allergens.
The cigarette smoke prevented the release of proteins associated with allergic reaction, without interfering with the mast cells’ other functions. The researchers are confident that the same effect would be observed in human cells, but caution against taken up smoking to cure allergies.
Perhaps we’ll actually be seeing more people give up smoking, thanks to another study published in the June issue of Prevention Science. Researchers investigating the effect of smoking bans on employment in bars and restaurants found that so-called “clean indoor air” policies did not harm people’s jobs.
Scientists at Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota looked at eight cities in Minnesota with smoking bans, and two with no such laws. Some of the bans prohibit all workplaces, whilst others exempt bars.
They found that over a 45-month period, there was little change in the levels of employment in bars and restaurants. This puts quite a dent in smoking ban opponents, who often claim that such businesses would be aversely effected by anti-smoking laws. Lead author Elizabeth Klein is assistant professor of health behaviour and health promotion at Ohio State University, and hopes that her study will be of use in future policy decisions:
“In the end we can say there isn’t a significant economic effect by type of clean indoor air policy, which should give us more support for maintaining the most beneficial public health policies,
“The public health benefit clearly comes from a comprehensive policy where all employees are protected from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.”