Smoking ban in public places may help improve health

London, Feb 27 (IANS) Researchers have found evidence that a ban on smoking in public places could be an effective measure to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke which has long been associated with negative health effects.

“The study findings highlight the impact of smoke-free policies, which contradict the hypothesis driven by the tobacco industry that smoke-free legislation merely displace smoking from public to private places,” said lead author Esteve Fernandez of the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain.

The study of second-hand smoke exposure after two smoking bans in Spain showed that overall exposure can be decreased across all settings by comprehensive legislative efforts.

The researchers reviewed approximately 2,500 adult non-smokers’ self-reported rates of tobacco smoke exposure in several public and private settings following smoking bans in 2006 and 2011.

While the 2006 smoking ban prohibited smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces (except in hospitality venues), in 2011, it was extended to all hospitality venues and selected outdoor areas (hospital campuses, educational centres, and playgrounds).

The survey results, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, showed significantly lower exposure following the second legislation, with participants reporting their overall exposure falling from 72 per cent in 2006 to 45 per cent in 2011.

Exposure decreased across all locations surveyed, beyond the workplaces and hospitality settings covered by the 2011 legislation.

For example, exposure also decreased in residences from 29 per cent to 13 per cent and in transportation spaces from 41 per cent to 13 per cent.

“Exposure to second-hand smoke in selected outdoor settings may be further reduced by extending smoke-free legislation,” said senior author Maria J. Lopez of the Public Health Agency of Barcelona, Spain.