Legislation and Smoking: Assessing the Impact of the English Smoking Ban on Smoking Behaviours
Carol M. Desousa
Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom

Despite being preventable, smoking is one of the key risk factors for many cancers causing approximately a third of all cancers in the UK (DoH 2000). In 2007, England imposed a total ban on smoking in public places. Although the primary motivation for public smoking bans was to protect non-smokers from environmental tobacco smoke, an expected secondary outcome was that smokers would be induced to quit smoking or at least to reduce their cigarette consumption.

Previous studies suggest that smoking prevalence and smoking intensity decrease at the time, or just prior, to a public smoking ban being enforced. However, little or no change in smoking prevalence occurs over longer time periods following a ban. There is some evidence that smoking intensity decreases over time, though few studies utilize pre-ban data (Callinan et al 2010, West 2010, Fowkes et al 2008).

The aims of this study were to determine whether, just after the introduction of the smoking ban in England, the likelihood of being a smoker and smoking intensity would be lower than expected had the ban not been implemented. The rate of change in the likelihood of being a smoker and smoking intensity after the ban was not expected to be different from changes before the ban. Comparative analyses of the impact of smoking bans in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were predicted to find similar effects. Disjointed, growth curve analyses were carried out using the British Household Panel Survey data (BHPS) (1999-2008), adjusted for age and gender.

The likelihood of being a smoker and smoking intensity among men and women were significantly lower than expected just after the smoking ban in 2007. As predicted, rates of changes in the likelihood of being a smoker and smoking intensity were not significantly different post-ban compared to pre-ban. Evidence from comparative analyses was inconclusive.

The smoking ban in England appears to have been a trigger for some smokers to quit or, among continuing smokers at least a reduction in smoking intensity to levels lower than expected had the ban had not come into effect.


Callinan, J. E., Clarke, A., Doherty, K. & Kelleher, C. 2010. 'Legislative smoking bans for reducing secondhand smoke exposure, smoking prevalence and tobacco consumption.' Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

DoH 2000. 'The NHS Cancer plan: a plan for investment, a plan for reform.' Crown Copyright.

Fowkes, J. I., Stewart, M. C. W., Fowkes, G. R., Amos, A. & Price, J. F. 2008. 'Scottish smoke-free legislation and trends in smoking cessation.' Addiction, 103:11, 1888-95.

West, R. 2010. 'Impact of the 'smoking ban' on smoking prevalence in England', [online at http://www.smokinginengland.info. Accessed June 2010.

Keywords: Smoking; Ban; England; Comparative analyses

Biography: Ms Carol Desousa has trained as a statistician and is currently a continuing Phd student at the Institutie of Social and Economic Research.

Her Phd examines the impact of structural factors on individual health behaviours.