Washington D.C. [USA]: A recent study shows how bans on smoking at a certain place, led young people living in those areas to give up or never take up cigarettes.
In particular, the study found that young males, who were light smokers, were more likely to give up cigarettes after a ban came into effect.
Smokers, who lived in areas where there was never a ban, weren’t likely to drop their cigarette habit.
However, smoking bans did not seem to affect tobacco use among women, although their use was already below that of men.
Co-author of the study Mike Vuolo said, “These findings provide some of the most robust evidence to date on the impact of smoking bans on young people’s smoking.”
Also, this is the first national study to show how the bans affect individual smokers.
Results showed that the probability of a young man smoking in the last 30 days was 19 percent for those living in an area without a ban, but only 13 percent for those who live in an area with a ban.
For women, the probability was the same (11 percent) regardless of where they lived.
The study included 4,341 people from 487 cities, who were interviewed every year from 2004 to 2011.
All participants were between the age of 19 and 31.
The researchers found big changes in the number of bans from 2004 to 2011.
The percentage of people in this study living in a city with a comprehensive ban increased from 14.9 percent to 58.7 percent during that time.
“We found that the implementation of a smoking ban reduces the odds that a young person in that location will smoke at all over time. In other words, young people are less likely to smoke once a smoking ban goes into effect,” Vuolo said.
Smoking bans didn’t work to reduce or end smoking for those who smoked more than a pack a day when the bans began.
What they do was prevent light smokers from becoming heavy smokers.
“We found that locations that have had a smoking ban for longer periods of time have fewer youth, regardless of gender, who are heavy smokers than other areas,” he said.
These results accounted for the effects of other tobacco control policies such as taxes, as well as characteristics of the individuals and where they live, said co-author Brian Kelly.
“This study isolates the effects of smoking bans alongside multiple types of tobacco policy. Ultimately, it identifies smoking bans as the most highly effective policy tool for lawmakers who wish to reduce smoking among young people,” Kelly said.
Vuolo said the study could not identify why smoking bans reduced smoking among men and not women. However, he noted that women in the study already smoked less than men.
“Smoking bans make men look more like women in terms of the amount that they smoke,” he said.
It is possible that men in the study were more likely to frequent bars, so they encountered smoking restrictions more often than women. That may have led more men to give up smoking, Vuolo said.
In any case, bans appear to convince social smokers to give up the habit.
“There’s a lot of evidence that casual, social smokers are influenced by their environment. If they can’t smoke inside with their friends at a restaurant or bar, they may choose not to smoke at all,” Vuolo said.
The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. (ANI)