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January 13, 2018

Drexel study: For college grads, smoking ban in restaurants helps curb the habit

Research Smoking
Carroll - Drexel University Dragon Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Drexel University.

College graduates who live near bars and restaurants with smoking bans are more motivated to quit smoking, a recent Drexel University found.

Researchers also saw this trend among women and people with lower incomes.

The study, published Thursday in the American Journal of Epidemiology, connected three decades of health data from young-to-middle-aged smokers to a database on smoking bans from the America Non-Smokers Rights Foundation, the school said in a press release.

The findings suggested that the bans were tied to higher numbers of attempts by smokers with a college education, lower incomes or both to quit. Researchers also said bans were linked to a higher increase in quit attempts among women, but not men.

These people also faced a lower risk of becoming a heavy smoker, which the school defined as having more than 10 cigarettes (half a pack) each day, the study shows.

"Our results suggest that smoking bans may help start the process among people with lower socioeconomic status by making them more likely to try to quit smoking, but that more needs to be done to help translate it into successful smoking cessation,” Stephanie Mayne, a former Drexel doctoral student and the study's lead author, said in a statement.

The bans seemed most effective on those with a higher level of education, researchers said. Among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, smoking fell by about 20 percent if they lived in areas where a ban was introduced.

Smoking levels did not decrease in those who hadn't attained at least a bachelor's degree, the study found.

The researchers analyzed more than 23,500 personal exams from over 5,000 people in Birmingham, Alabama; Oakland, California; Chicago; and Minneapolis, the study stated. Participants self-reported smoking status, smoking frequency and the number of times they had tried to quit.

The initial exam was given in 1985, with follow-up exams conducted after two, five, seven, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years, the study states.

Studies have shown that it may take the average smoker far more attempts to quit than the oft-used five-to-seven benchmark. Drexel professor Amy Auchincloss, who co-authored the study, estimated that it can take between eight and 14 attempts to kick the habit for good.

Research has also shown that smoking bans in restaurants or bars reduce secondhand smoke exposure.