Attitudes to smoke-free outdoor regulations in the USA and Canada: a review of 89 surveys

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Abstract

Objective

To review the published survey data on public support for smoke-free outdoor regulations in the USA and Canada (two countries at the forefront of such policies).

Data sources and study selection

We searched for English language articles and reports using Medline, Google Scholar and Google for the period to December 2014. We retained population-based surveys of the adult general population in jurisdictions in the USA and Canada, with a minimum survey sample of 500.

Data extraction

The analysis focused on assessing levels and trends in public support for different types of places and also explored how support varied between population groups.

Results

Relevant data were found from 89 cross-sectional surveys between 1993 and 2014. Support for smoke-free regulations in outdoor places tended to be highest for smoke-free school grounds (range: 57–95%) playgrounds (89–91%), and building entrances (45–89%) and lowest for smoke-free outdoor workplaces (12–46%) and sidewalks (31–49%). Support was lower among smokers, though for some types of places there was majority smoker support (eg, school grounds with at least 77% support in US state surveys after 2004). Trend data involving the same questions and the same surveyed populations suggested increased general public and smoker support for smoke-free regulations over time (eg, from 67% to 78% during 2002–2008 for smoke-free school grounds in the USA). Higher support was typically seen from women and some ethnic groups (eg, African-Americans).

Conclusions

Outdoor smoke-free regulations can achieve majority public support, including from smokers.

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