Smoke bans encourage smoke-free homes

  • Deborah Condon

Laws aimed at keeping certain indoor places smoke-free appear to be having a knock-on effect in people's homes, new research indicates.

According to US researchers, an increasing number of cities and countries are adopting indoor smoke-free policies, such as the workplace ban on smoking that was introduced in Ireland back in 2004.

However, some experts have expressed concern that these laws might encourage smokers to smoke more at home or in other places where the habit is allowed. This is especially important because it is already known that children living in a home with an adult who smokes are twice as likely to start smoking as well.

The researchers studied data from a household survey on tobacco use and found that indoor smoke-free laws were linked with voluntary smoke-free policies in people's homes.

"Although the aim of clean indoor air laws is to reduce second hand smoke exposure in public venues, our results show that these laws have the important additional benefit of stimulating smoke-free homes, with a larger association in homes occupied by smokers, protecting kids and other family members from second hand smoke," explained lead researcher, Prof Stanton Glantz, of the University of California, San Francisco.

In fact, the team found that in areas with a 100% no smoking policy in workplaces, including pubs and restaurants - currently the policy in Ireland - there was ‘an increased likelihood of having a voluntary 100% smoke-free home rule, for both smoking and non-smoking households'.

Prof Glantz noted that this smoke-free rule in the home was more likely if children were present.

The researchers insisted that as the home is still a major source of passive smoking among children, these findings ‘are an additional justification for enacting smoke-free legislation'.

Details of this study are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


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