Number of heavy smokers fall after smoking ban
There was a significant drop in those smoking 20 cigarettes a day or more following the ban on smoking in public places in England, a survey has found. However, there was no change in the overall number who smoked.
The authors carried out a postal survey of 3,500 people in Bury, Lancashire before, and three months after, the smoking ban came into force in 2007. Participants were randomly selected using the PCT database.
The survey comprised 24 questions relating to demographics, smoking behaviour and related issues. Those who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day were considered to be heavy smokers.
Overall, response rates were 60% and 56% to the first and second questionnaires, respectively.
The standardised prevalence of smoking was approximately 22% in both samples, with no significant reduction in the post-ban survey.
However, there was a statistically significant reduction in the number of heavy smokers after the introduction of the ban (28% of total smokers reducing to 22% after the ban).
Although primarily designed to reduce the health risks associated with second-hand smoke, it was also hoped that the 2007 legislation might motivate smokers to give up. It may disappoint GPs that the smoking ban did not bring about a significant reduction in the prevalence of smoking. However, it is encouraging that the number of heavy smokers fell.
Elton, P J, Campbell P. Smoking prevalence in a north-west town following the introduction of Smoke-free England. J Pub Health 2008;30:415-42057-62Reviewer
Dr Jez Thompson
GP and Clinical Director, NHS Hull Social Inclusion Services