Sharp Intake Of Breath As 99% Of Smokers Respect The Ban, UK
After just three months of smokefree public places in England, research published by ASH (Action on Smoking & Health), Asthma UK and the British Thoracic Society shows 97% of smokers are respecting the ban fully or quitting smoking completely, leaving th
After just three months of smokefree public places in England, research published by ASH (Action on Smoking & Health), Asthma UK and the British Thoracic Society shows 97% of smokers are respecting the ban fully or quitting smoking completely, leaving the rest of us to breathe a sigh of relief.
Three quarters (73%) of adults say the new law has been good for their health. England's three and a half million adults living with asthma have most to celebrate, with 43% reporting that they are less worried about having an asthma attack when in enclosed public places and half (51%) reporting that they are more able to go out to pubs since England went smokefree on 1 July. Meanwhile, smokers with asthma are quitting faster than the rest of the population (17% of people with asthma, versus 12% of the general population have attempted to quit since 1 July).
Eddie Connor, 33, who suffers from asthma, commented on the report: 'This law has been a total breath of fresh air. It's meant I can go to the pub more often and without the usual choking on someone else's cigarette smoke. It's also great to eat out at a restaurant without having the equivalent of an after-dinner cigarette with my meal. Since 1 July, it seems like the majority of people are more considerate towards others before lighting up.'
Government inspections have already shown high levels of compliance in bars and restaurants but this is the first survey to ask smokers if they have flouted the law. 97% of smokers who have been in a pub in the last month have not smoked in a pub since July 1 and 2% have done so only once This is supported by reports from pub goers in general, with 86% saying they have not seen anybody smoke in a bar since the law came into force.
The study shows that large numbers of smokers have either attempted to quit or quit successfully since 1 July or in the 6 months running up to it. While a minority of smokers have been to their GP (12%) or used NHS services (10%) to help them kick the habit, only 1 in 3 (34%) quitters used the drug therapies (such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy), which have been shown to double your chance of quitting successfully.
Although awareness of the harm second hand smoke causes to adults was high, few appeared to be aware of the risk of sudden infant death. Second hand smoke is a major factor in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome yet when we asked people about the harmful effects of second hand smoke, not one of the 1,532 people interviewed mentioned it. When we prompted them, less than a third (30%) of smokers believed cigarette smoke had "some impact" or 'a big impact' on cot death.
Report author Martin Dockrell said: 'As we expected, more people are going out to pubs and restaurants and many smokers are quitting. It's really encouraging to see almost all smokers respecting the law. However some areas may be having particular difficulties and their enforcement officers will have to re-double their efforts.
'We had thought that the public might have had enough of tobacco control but there is even support for further measures, for example almost 3/4 of the population (72%) want to see a requirement that cigarettes are designed to go out if they are left burning without being smoked.'
While the ban has prompted quitters and a more smoke free environment, awareness of the health risks of second hand smoke is still worryingly low. Only 26% of people suggested second hand smoke could contribute to heart disease; with only 30% and 38% suggesting it contributes to lung cancer and asthma, respectively.
Professor John Macfarlane, Chairman of the British Thoracic Society, said: 'This research shows how effective the smoking ban is in helping to reduce the number of smokers and the number of people exposed to second hand smoke; however it's clear more needs to be done to raise awareness of the effects of second smoke on asthma, lung cancer, COPD and heart disease. Cigarette smoke remains the number one contributor to these conditions.'
Neil Churchill, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, added: 'Three months on from 1 July, people with asthma are already reaping the massive benefits of this law in terms of their health and social lives. More than a third say they are a great deal less exposed to second-hand smoke as they go about their day-to-day lives.
'It's also encouraging to hear that the three quarters of a million smokers with asthma are kicking the habit faster than the rest of the population, showing that they are taking their health seriously and doing something about it. It seems smokers and non-smokers are in agreement - smokefree law is good news for everyone.'
A general population survey was conducted with 1532 adults aged 18+ in England and an additional survey of 1025 adults aged 18+ with asthma in England was conducted. Fieldwork was carried out online by YouGov between 22 and 28 August.
1. The British Thoracic Society is the UK's professional body of respiratory specialists (