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Do smoke-free public places have an impact on smoking rates?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

The primary reason that governments are adopting smoke-free public places is to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, which we now know is also a public health hazard. But smoke-free spaces can also impact smokers' behavior. Fewer opportunities to smoke mean less smoking. Smoke-free spaces also make smoking less socially acceptable. People who don't smoke tend to stare smokers down, especially if they disobey smoking rules. So smokers have to plan for their fixes, look for a safe place to smoke while keeping an eye out for the so-called smoking police. It can be a big pain. Many smokers end up quitting rather than giving in to all the restrictions they must endure.

It's taken us a while to get to this point, and we still have a ways to go, but I'm so pleased that the Surgeon General has made smoking cessation in public places and workplaces a priority, and that state governments are keeping smoking out of our workplaces, public spaces, restaurants, bars and parks.

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Smoke-free public places have made an impact on smoking rates. Studies show that smoke-free places can change people’s attitudes about smoking being a common activity, since they see fewer people lighting up.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoke-free public places have led to a slight decline in smoking and smoking-related deaths. Smoke-free public places also protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke.

When there are smoke-free public places, smoking rates and consumption go down. In addition, air quality goes up and exposure to second-hand smoke goes down for those who work in public places.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.