Another smoking ban miracle
Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 0:01
Simon Clark

Smoking bans have helped cut childhood smoking uptake by a fifth says a new study published today:

New research suggests smoking bans across the UK have reduced the uptake of smoking by teenagers by roughly a fifth.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow’s MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit along with colleagues at the Welsh Government and the University of Stirling, looked at school-based surveys to see what effect comprehensive smoke-free policies has had on smoking uptake in adolescents.
The study, which is published today in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, discovered trends in the uptake of smoking amongst teenagers aged 13 and 15 differed substantially before and after the introduction of such legislation.
Dr Vittal Katikireddi, the lead author of the paper, said: “The results demonstrate a fairly big change in the number of young people starting smoking – particularly in girls.
“For 15 year old girls in England the smoking rate reduced from 24% to 19% after the legislation. Of course, the smoking bans are quite recent; the longer term impact could be even greater.”

I haven't read the study (I've only seen the press release) but can this really be true? I was at Stansted waiting for a flight and only had 15 minutes to respond but this was my immediate reaction:

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said:
"While we welcome any reduction in teenage smoking rates, it's incongruous to suggest workplace smoking bans have had a significant impact.
"Smoking rates among children were in decline long before smoking was banned in pubs, clubs and offices.
"Teenagers are well educated about the health risks of smoking and this, more than anything, is the principal reason for the long-term decline in the number of children who smoke.
"Since the smoking ban was introduced we've had graphic health warnings, a tobacco display ban, a ban on cigarette vending machines and further increases in tobacco taxation.
"To suggest that smoking bans have been a major factor in cutting childhood smoking rates is an act of faith not a statement of fact.
"This research is yet another attempt to justify legislation that should be amended to allow designated smoking rooms in pubs, clubs and other adult-orientated venues."

Btw, you'd be amazed how many press releases I've written while waiting for a flight. I must be cursed because it seems to happen every time.

I arrive at the airport, pass through security, buy a magazine or two, order a coffee in the departure lounge and, hey presto, I'm asked to respond to some report or other.

When the call came this morning I only had a short time before the flight left so I had to abandon both my coffee and my triple cheese toasted sandwich.

I'll find out soon whether it was worth the effort.

Update: I've been been quoted by the Press Association, Daily Mail, STV and several local papers. The story didn't get as much coverage as I expected, to be honest.

My colleague Rob Lyons was on LBC this morning and he has just reminded me of something I had completely forgotten.

In 2007, shortly after the introduction of the smoking ban in England and Wales, the minimum age for the sale of tobacco was raised from 16 to 18.

No-one else (least of all the researchers at the University of Glasgow’s MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and their colleagues at the Welsh Government and the University of Stirling) thought to mention it!

You can read more on this here – Teenage girls and smoking (Action on Consumer Choice).

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (
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