A new study has said that youth who live in towns that
have smoke-free restaurants are less likely to develop the habit.
The study led by Dr Michael Siegel, M.P.H., of Boston
University School of Public Health analysed 3,834 Massachusetts youths aged 12
to 17 years in the first interview between 2001 and 2002.
The researchers interviewed 2,791 participants after
two years and 2,217 after four years.
The study showed that over the period 9.3 percent of
the participants became established smokers including 9.6 percent of those
living in towns with weak restaurant smoking regulations, where smoking is
restricted to designated areas or not restricted at all, 9.8 percent of those
in towns with medium regulations where smoking is restricted to enclosed or
ventilated areas, or no smoking is allowed but variations are permitted and 7.9
percent of those in towns with complete smoking bans.
The strength of local smoking regulations was not
associated with the transition from non-smoking to experimentation, but was
associated with the transition from experimentation to established smoking.
The researchers believe that smoking bans can
influence youth by decreasing their exposure to smokers in public places and
also altering the perceived social acceptability of smoking.
"Both of these effects would be expected to influence
the transition from experimentation to established smoking but not
experimentation in the first place," wrote the researchers.
According to the authors the results suggest that
local smoke-free restaurant laws may decrease youth smoking initiation.
"If it represents a true effect, the observed 40
percent reduction in the odds of progression to established smoking in towns
with local restaurant smoking bans would suggest that smoke-free policies may
be the most effective intervention available to reduce youth smoking," they
The report appears in
May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the