California's Anti-Smoking Campaign Is a Success
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - More than ever before, Californians are breathing cleaner air at work and in their homes thanks to the tough anti-smoking laws and educational campaigns in that state, researchers say.
Compared with a decade ago, the number of workers reporting smoke-free workplaces has nearly tripled, according to a report published in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health, journal of the American Public Health Association (news - web sites).
"Over the past decade, Californians have reported steadily decreasing exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace, as well as increased smoke-free home environments, which indicates that clean air legislation combined with education is making an impact," said lead author Elizabeth A. Gilpin of the University of California, San Diego.
The percentage of people working indoors who say their workplace is smoke-free increased from 35% in 1990 to 93% in 1999. Indoor workers who say they are exposed to secondhand smoke decreased from 29% to 16%, the authors report.
And fewer people are smoking in their homes, according to the investigators, who note that smoke-free homes jumped up to 74% in 1999 from 38% in 1992. What's more, nearly half of all smokers reported having smoke-free homes.
"The 6.6% of indoor workers who failed to report that their indoor workplace is smoke-free, and the 15.6% of indoor workers reporting exposure to secondhand smoke in their work area in the past 2 weeks in 1999 indicate that compliance is not complete," Gilpin's team writes. "This study cannot determine whether lack of compliance is due to lack of knowledge of the law or lack of enforcement," they add.
The reduction of smoking is largely due to increased public awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke, the researchers point out.
"Educating the public will continue to be the most effective method of keeping California's indoor air free of secondhand smoke," Gilpin said in a prepared statement.
"Awareness programs targeted at demographic groups will reinforce existing mass media messages. Being armed with information about the dangers of secondhand smoke is the best way for everyone--smokers and non-smokers--to change behaviors," she concluded.
California began in 1994 to phase in its ban on smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces. The trend has since spread throughout the country and around the world.