We examined the pattern of the passage of smoking laws across venues (government and private workplaces, restaurants, bars) and by strength (no law to 100% smoke-free).Methods
We conducted transition analyses of local and state smoking restrictions passed between 1970 and 2009, with data from the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Ordinance Database.Results
Each decade, more laws were enacted, from 18 passed in the 1970s to 3172 in the first decade of this century, when 91% of existing state laws were passed. Most laws passed took states and localities from no law to some level of smoking restriction, and most new local (77%; 5148/6648) and state (73%; 115/158) laws passed in the study period did not change strength.Conclusions
Because these laws are “sticky”-once a law has passed, strength of the law and venues covered do not change often-policymakers and advocates should focus on passing strong laws the first time, rather than settling for less comprehensive laws with the hope of improving them in the future.