Public Smoking Laws and Environmental Smoke Exposure
Smoking bans have been found to reduce heart attacks, but how such laws bring about other improved health outcomes is less clear. Little is known about the degree to which bans reduce second-hand smoke exposure, for example.
A 2010 paper by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, and Queen’s University, Canada, “Public-Place Smoking Laws and Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) in Public Places,” seeks to bridge this gap. Using data from Canada, the study examines the effects of smoking laws on smoking prevalence and second-hand smoke exposure, and thus, the broader public health implications of smoking laws.
The study’s key findings include:
- Smoking laws reduced the probability of second-hand smoke exposure in a restaurant by 75% relative to a mean exposure rate of 54% in 2005.
- Laws reduced second-hand smoke exposure inside a bar was 64% relative to a mean exposure rate of 37.6% in 2005.
- From 2000 to 2008, public-place second-hand smoke exposure declined from 23% to 11%. Public-place smoking laws could account for 7.3% of the reduction.
- While smoking bans reduce second-hand smoke exposure in public places, they have no significant effect in reducing smoking intensity.
While the researchers note that the study has limitations — for example, the data is self-reported — they conclude that its findings suggest that public-place smoking bans have the potential to improve public health.
Tags: medicine, safety
Read the University of California and Queen’s University study titled "Public-Place Smoking Laws and Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) in Public Places."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related New York Times article titled "City Seeks Ban on Smoking in Parks and Beaches."
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.