Smokers’ support for smokefree law doubles

Thursday 01 July 2010

On the third anniversary of England’s smokefree public places law, research shows that public support for the law is strong and continuing to grow, particularly among smokers. According to a YouGov poll for ASH [1] support for the law has doubled since it was introduced in 2007 and for every four smokers who oppose the law there are five who support it.

Smokers as well as nonsmokers increasingly regard the law as good for the health of workers, good for the general public, and good for their own health: Overall 81% of all adults believe the smokefree legislation is good for their health, with 91% of never-smokers believing this to be the case and 50% of daily smokers.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is substantial support among smokers for further restrictions on smoking: 49% support a ban on smoking in children’s play areas (30% oppose) and 61% support a ban on smoking in cars with children (22% oppose). In the general population 73% support a ban on smoking in children’s play areas and 77% support a ban on smoking in cars carrying children.

A majority of adults also support further restrictions on smoking at the entrances and exits of public buildings: overall 67% agreed with this proposal including a fifth (21%) of smokers and 82% of never smokers.

Recently published research shows that the smokefree law has already resulted in significant health benefits: in the 12 months following implementation, there was a 2.4% drop in the number of heart attacks in England resulting in 12,000 fewer admissions to hospital, saving the NHS £8.4 million. [2]

And contrary to industry predictions, there is no objective evidence that the hospitality industry suffered as a result of smokefree regulations. The total number of licences issued by Local Authorities for premises to serve alcohol increased by around 5% and more people are visiting pubs since the legislation. [3] [4]
Martin Dockrell, ASH’s Director of Policy and Research commented:

“England’s smokefree law has been a huge success and has attracted more support with each passing year. Despite attempts by the tobacco industry to scare smokers and the hospitality trade into opposing the law, three years on opposition has all but vanished.”



Notes and links:
[1] Surveys conducted by YouGov Plc. Wave 1: Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th and 22nd April 2007. Total sample size was 1562 adults. Wave 2: Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd and 28th August 2007. Total sample size was 1532 adults. Wave 3: Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th and 25th February 2008. Total sample size was 1056 adults. Wave 4: Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th and 30nd March 2009. Total sample size was 10895 adults. Wave 5: Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th and 22nd March 2010. Total sample size was 10276 adults.. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all England adults (aged 18+).
[2] Sims M, Maxwell R, Bauld L & Gilmore A. The short-term impact of smokefree legislation in England: a retrospective analysis on hospital admissions for myocardial infarction. BMJ 2010;340:c2161
[3] DCMS Statistical Bulletin, Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing, England and Wales, April 2007 – March 2008.
[4] Smoking-related behaviour and attitudes 2008/9, Department of Health, 2009

[5] See also ASH briefing: No review for England’s smokefree regulations