Do National Smoking Bans Actually Work?

Russia just enacted one. Here's how they've fared in other developed countries

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Maxim Shemetov / REUTERS

A woman smokes a cigarette in a café in Moscow, on May 31, 2013

The world’s third largest tobacco market has officially banned smoking.

As of June 1, Russians are no longer allowed to light up on public transportation, at airports and train stations, and inside schools and hospitals, among other public spots. Cigarette ads will also vanish from streets, and smoking won’t be featured in Russian-made movies and cartoons (sorry, Gena the pipe-smoking crocodile).

The ban is the country’s most comprehensive effort yet to encourage daily smokers — more than half of men and about one-sixth of women, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development — to kick the habit and prevent about 200,000 deaths each year.

But will it actually work? Here’s how similar efforts have played out in other developed nations.

Ireland became the first nation to institute a countrywide workplace-smoking ban in 2004. The new regulation built onto the 1988 sanctions against cigarette smoking in many public buildings and on public transportation (save for smoking-permitted carriages).

In 2005, researchers recorded a 17% drop in respiratory issues and found that 80% of those surveyed didn’t just say the ban encouraged them to quit; 88% said it kept them smoke-free. Prosmoking lobbyists still take issue with the initiatives fueled by Health Minister James Reilly, who recently revealed that his father and brother died from smoking-related illnesses and who is cracking down on package marketing, but his policies appear effective. New research on the effect of the 2004 legislation found that double-digit drops in heart disease and strokes and that cleaner air had prevented 3,700 deaths.

Its first efforts came in May 2006, when officials announced that the Beijing Olympics would be smoke-free — specifically hospitals used for the games and public transportation. In May 2011, the government pushed to puff out cigarette smoking at all indoor public venues.

More than two years later, the consensus is that it didn’t really work. But it was a tall order to begin with: More than one-third of the world’s smokers are Chinese — in 2012, the average citizen smoked 30% more than in 1990 — and 1 million of them die each year from related diseases. Previous efforts derailed due to patchy enforcement, as the government body in charge of carrying out national antismoking laws was also running the world’s largest cigarette maker. Jay Chittooran, a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, suggested in March that China could boost tobacco abstinence for students, resolve the aforementioned conflict of interest and raise prices. So far, aside from forbidding vending machines from selling cigarettes and prominently displaying no-smoking signs, the habit remains firmly entrenched in China and evidence of it is ubiquitous.

Lawmakers introduced an extensive smoking ban in January 2005 that prohibited the act in all indoor public places. The measure wasn’t welcomed by bar owners, who claimed that smoking is ingrained in their culture and who faced a $2,600 fine for failing to make sure their customers didn’t smoke. Despite it being legal to cordon off certain smoke-if-you-want areas, they decried the expense for automatic doors and ventilation systems.

Nationwide health improved though, as researchers in Rome later found that cigarette sales slowed by 5.5%, smoking frequency among men dropped more than 4% and the number of heart attacks significantly decreased. Italians can still partake outdoors, but in August 2011, one mayor near Venice took it one step further by experimenting with a beach ban, even if he couldn’t punish offenders.

Legislation to ban smoking was passed in 2003, but the guidelines weren’t solidified until Oct. 2, 2008, the birthday of nonsmoker Mohandas Gandhi. At the time, India was home to 120 million smokers — 900,000 of which were dying each year from tobacco-related illnesses — and earlier efforts to curb the habit had proved ineffective. Enforcement and antismoking advocacy were crucial, yet lawbreakers faced a mere $4.50 fine.

Researchers say the new regulation that outlawed workplace smoking has led to more smoke-free homes and that most people supported warnings during Bollywood smoking scenes. But nearly five years later, violations are rampant. The Times of India recently suggested that more pointed awareness campaigns and stricter monitoring would lead to more positive results.

Like the majority of the world, the U.S. does not have a nationwide smoking ban. Rather, it’s up to local and state authorities. To date, 48% of the population is banned from smoking indoors at public venues, like offices, restaurants and bars; outliers like casinos in New Orleans have been slower to give in.

Advocacy campaigns and antismoking legislation have dramatically reduced hospitalizations for tobacco-related diseases, researchers say, but some activists are pushing for outdoors bans as well. George Washington University pledged to not only go smoke-free this fall, but also is planning to ban smoking within 25 ft. of all university-owned public spaces. In late May, Starbucks announced a similar measure for thousands of its cafés.


Smoking bans do work. The problem with saying the smoking ban in China doesn't work is this. First you're only talking about two years. But secondly you did not take into consideration one major factor in China, India and other emerging markets: That is whole the tobacco companies have flooded those markets with more and more product. Money holds a lot of power in those emerging markets and as long as there is money to made with selling tobacco products people will smoke more and more. So the most effective method in those emerging markets is to levy huge taxes on tobacco products. 


Stopping smoking in the public only reduces external triggers reaching a smoker. Smoking is a complex habit and has lots of internal triggers too, rising from nicotine addiction and habit. Smokers need a comprehensive Stop Smoking Program that covers all the bases and helps them to quit smoking.


Greece, which has a similar smoking rate as Russia, attempted to impose a ban and gave up when no one heeded it. I doubt Russia's ban will be very successful. With a smoking rate around 50% of the male population and women not far behind, I imagine the country will need to do a lot more education before attempting to impose a ban.


It's pretty obvious that about 20-25% of people still smoke even thought it's banned and they know how bad it is. Electronic cigarettes are another option to avoid tobacco, nicotine and odor, so see E Cig Werks for more. 


This is about as dumb and illegal as telling grownups they have to wear a seatbelt in their VEHICLES..OH MY GOD


Just in the USA ALONE,Alcohol use costs $ 275 Billion a Year...Smoking don't even come,yet it is taxed 100 times higher than all ALCOHOL,And Beer for instance only pays .42 cents a gallon Tax.A Carton of cigarettes is $75.00,A Case of beer is what $ 15-18.00 ? hmmmmmmmmm talk aboout an a.s backwards society...YOUR LIVING IN IT PEOPLE.


How about an ALCOHOL BAN,After all its is in FACT the Biggest cause of death,disease,destruction,accidents,murders,rapes,suicides,injuries IN THE WORLD,Yet it is served everywhere,sold,advertised,and the worst part is it is SERVED WHERE CHILDREN ARE PRESENT,,,Wake up you fools.............................


Will you listen to your female friend, your sister, or your lovely daughter, just for a reason to quit a bad habit of smoking? Something just like they would say, "Coffee, tea, or me?" On the other hand, if the fire were only started by smoking, would you rather trust the nicotine research on the Scientific American magazine, or would you trust the suggestion from a gubernatorial Attorney General certain years ago, say, beckoned by the college student outside local university campus? 


One measure of a smoking ban success is the mortality statistics. Taxation of abusers seems to work. A rigidly enforced low cost penalty for tax evasion makes the taxation more effective...but what are the best goals? Surely you don't want to encourage the overpopulation of our Earth, so why not let the suicidal abusers succeed with their desire for the short-fast-track?


John seems to have fallen victim of fallacious thinking.  Like most people with an agenda, he's gone out of his way to find websites that are sponsored by tobacco companies which "support" his positions.

It's easy enough to find out who owns what and where, who sponsors "studies" and how at odds this views are with several thousand studies performed by parties that are sponsored by more objective organizations (such as the federal government) confirming the deleterious effects of smoking both second hand and first hand.

The willfully ignorant refuse to believe the facts, and will only believe "facts" that agree with them.  Sad, but true.

But the real bottom line here is that they STINK!  Literally.  They have a gag-inducing odor that makes you want to hold your breath forever around them.   If nothing else, making cigarettes illegal would certainly go a long way to making the world smell a lot better.


I think that smoking people are not necessarily evil, but evil people usually smoke.  Hence discrimination toward smoking and criticizing people who smoke is necessary in the society.


What they did 60 years ago was take OLD AGE DISEASE and rename it smoking related! Its been a grand run for the prohibitionists but its been all LIES and JUNK SCIENCE since day 1!

7 October, the COT meeting on 26 October and the COC meeting on 18
November 2004.

"5. The Committees commented that tobacco smoke was a highly complex chemical mixture and that the causative agents for smoke induced diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, effects on reproduction and on offspring) was unknown. The mechanisms by which tobacco induced adverse effects were not established. The best information related to tobacco smoke - induced lung cancer, but even in this instance a detailed mechanism was not available. The Committees therefore agreed that on the basis of current knowledge it would be very difficult to identify a toxicological testing strategy or a biomonitoring approach for use in volunteer studies with smokers where the end-points determined or biomarkers measured were predictive of the overall burden of tobacco-induced adverse disease."

In other words ... our first hand smoke theory is so lame we can't even design a bogus lab experiment to prove it. In fact ... we don't even know how tobacco does all of the magical things we claim it does.

The greatest threat to the second hand theory is the weakness of the first hand theory.


Heart miracles are impossible
It's good to see Dr. Carl V. Philips back and blogging over at Ep-ology. In his last two posts he has been discussing the North Carolina heart miracle 'study', which is as bad a piece of advocacy-driven junk science as you will ever see.

In particular, he makes a point which I have tried to made before, which is absolutely fundamental to all the heart miracle studies. The results they report—of heart attacks falling by 17%, 21%, 40% or whatever—are simply impossible.

The North Carolina smoking ban/heart attack hoax


This pretty well destroys the Myth of second hand smoke:

Lungs from pack-a-day smokers safe for transplant, study finds.

By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News.

Using lung transplants from heavy smokers may sound like a cruel joke, but a new study finds that organs taken from people who puffed a pack a day for more than 20 years are likely safe.

What’s more, the analysis of lung transplant data from the U.S. between 2005 and 2011 confirms what transplant experts say they already know: For some patients on a crowded organ waiting list, lungs from smokers are better than none.

“I think people are grateful just to have a shot at getting lungs,” said Dr. Sharven Taghavi, a cardiovascular surgical resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, who led the new study...........................

Ive done the math here and this is how it works out with second ahnd smoke and people inhaling it!

The 16 cities study conducted by the U.S. DEPT OF ENERGY and later by Oakridge National laboratories discovered:

Cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year.


A bartender would have to work in second hand smoke for 2433 years to get an equivalent dose.

Then the average non-smoker in a ventilated restaurant for an hour would have to go back and forth each day for 119,000 years to get an equivalent 20 years of smoking a pack a day! Pretty well impossible ehh!


They have created a fear that is based on nothing’’
World-renowned pulmonologist, president of the prestigious Research Institute Necker for the last decade, Professor Philippe Even, now retired, tells us that he’s convinced of the absence of harm from passive smoking. A shocking interview.

What do the studies on passive smoking tell us?

PHILIPPE EVEN. There are about a hundred studies on the issue. First surprise: 40% of them claim a total absence of harmful effects of passive smoking on health. The remaining 60% estimate that the cancer risk is multiplied by 0.02 for the most optimistic and by 0.15 for the more pessimistic … compared to a risk multiplied by 10 or 20 for active smoking! It is therefore negligible. Clearly, the harm is either nonexistent, or it is extremely low.

It is an indisputable scientific fact. Anti-tobacco associations report 3 000-6 000 deaths per year in France ...

I am curious to know their sources. No study has ever produced such a result.

Many experts argue that passive smoking is also responsible for cardiovascular disease and other asthma attacks. Not you?

They don’t base it on any solid scientific evidence. Take the case of cardiovascular diseases: the four main causes are obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. To determine whether passive smoking is an aggravating factor, there should be a study on people who have none of these four symptoms. But this was never done. Regarding chronic bronchitis, although the role of active smoking is undeniable, that of passive smoking is yet to be proven. For asthma, it is indeed a contributing factor ... but not greater than pollen!

The purpose of the ban on smoking in public places, however, was to protect non-smokers. It was thus based on nothing?

Absolutely nothing! The psychosis began with the publication of a report by the IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer, which depends on the WHO (Editor's note: World Health Organization). The report released in 2002 says it is now proven that passive smoking carries serious health risks, but without showing the evidence. Where are the data? What was the methodology? It's everything but a scientific approach. It was creating fear that is not based on anything.

Why would anti-tobacco organizations wave a threat that does not exist?

The anti-smoking campaigns and higher cigarette prices having failed, they had to find a new way to lower the number of smokers. By waving the threat of passive smoking, they found a tool that really works: social pressure. In good faith, non-smokers felt in danger and started to stand up against smokers. As a result, passive smoking has become a public health problem, paving the way for the Evin Law and the decree banning smoking in public places. The cause may be good, but I do not think it is good to legislate on a lie. And the worst part is that it does not work: since the entry into force of the decree, cigarette sales are rising again.

Why not speak up earlier?

As a civil servant, dean of the largest medical faculty in France, I was held to confidentiality. If I had deviated from official positions, I would have had to pay the consequences. Today, I am a free man.

Le Parisien