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Smoke-Free Policies Prove Effective

They not only cut secondhand exposure but also helped current users cut back, study finds

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Smoke-free policies are extremely effective at reducing smoking rates, exposure to secondhand smoke, and even smoking-related heart disease, new research shows.

The report, by an International Agency for Cancer Research working group, also found smoke-free rules don't affect business in restaurants or bars.

The researchers analyzed available evidence and found:

  • Implementation of smoke-free policies substantially decreases secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Smoke-free workplaces decrease cigarette consumption in continuing smokers.
  • Smoke-free policies decrease respiratory symptoms in workers.
  • Smoke-free policies don't decrease business in restaurants or bars.
  • Voluntary smoke-free home policies decrease adult and youth smoking and children's exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Smoke-free workplaces decrease adult smoking rates.
  • Smoke-free policies decrease tobacco use in youths.
  • Smoke-free legislation reduces rates of heart disease.

The working group recommended that governments implement smoke-free policies that conform to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

"Implementation of such policies can have a broader population effect of increasing smoke-free environments. Not only do these policies achieve their aim of protecting the health of nonsmokers by decreasing exposure to secondhand smoke, they also have many effects on smoking behavior, which compound the expected health benefits. These benefits will be greater if these policies are enacted as part of a comprehensive tobacco-control strategy that implements all of the provisions called for by the WHO-FCTC," the working group concluded.

Until now, most research on smoke-free policies has been conducted in rich countries. The working group recommended "the establishment of a multinational surveillance system to allow assessment of the effect of these policies in low-resource and medium-resource countries."

The report was published online and in the July edition of The Lancet Oncology, an issue dedicated to lung cancer.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about smoke-free policies.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet Oncology, news release, June 30, 2008

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