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Household smoking bans found effective at curtailing home cigarette use

A pair of studies involving more than 450 parents in Philadelphia that examined the effects of household smoking bans found that homes that voluntarily imposed smoking bans reduced the number of cigarettes smoked at home.

A study to be published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) and posted online Feb. 13 considered the origins and effects of home smoking bans. The study found that the amount of smoking in a household had no effect on whether that household implemented a smoking ban. In other words, the researchers found no evidence that homes with more smoking were less likely to adopt a household smoking ban – or that homes with less smoking were more likely to put a ban in place.

“Smoking levels in these Philadelphia households do not determine whether someone implements a home-smoking ban,” said Michael Hennessy, lead author of the study and a senior researcher at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “This is good non-experimental evidence that having the ban causes the reduction in smoking.”

Hennessy noted that there were two main ways to get people to reduce the harmful effects of smoking: through government regulation and through voluntary behavior. Behavioral change is a kind of non-legislative regulation of tobacco products, he said. “If you can get smokers and non-smokers to change their behavior in relation to smoking in the home, you don’t need legislation, lawyers, or government to intervene,” he said.

A second study examines the nature of home-smoking policies  

The AJPH study was one of two recently published studies on household smoking bans from researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The second study, to be published in Preventive Medicine (and posted online Feb. 25), examined different kinds of household smoking policies among the same group of Philadelphia parents and caregivers who lived in a household with at least one smoker and a child under 13 years old.

The Preventive Medicine study, led by senior research scientist Amy Bleakley, found that 48 percent of those surveyed had a full ban on smoking in the home, 42 percent had a partial ban, and 10 percent allowed smoking everywhere in the home. In homes that didn’t have a full ban, policies existed about smoking in the presence of children. In more than half of the homes that did not have a full ban (54 percent), smoking was allowed in front of children.

For the full news release, click here.