The partial smoking ban in licensed establishments and health inequalities in England: Modelling study

  • Woodall A
  • Sandbach E
  • Woodward C
 et al. 
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Abstract

The UK government's white paper Choosing Health proposes prohibiting smoking in public places in England, but exempts public houses (pubs) not serving catered food and licensed establishments that require membership. However, passive inhalation of smoke at work may cause 600 deaths per year in the United Kingdom and increases morbidity and mortality among bar workers. Furthermore, people attempting to quit smoking find that socialising with other smokers makes quitting difficult, and lapses in quitting are more likely in premises where smoking is permitted. Concerns exist that exempt establishments are located primarily in deprived areas with the highest smoking prevalence and that a partial ban worsens health inequalities. We examined if exempt establishments were located predominantly in deprived areas in the borough of Telford and Wrekin. We found that prohibiting smoking only in pubs that serve catered food and allowing exemptions for other licensed drinking establishments may worsen health inequalities. Our results show that people in deprived areas are more likely to live near licensed establishments exempt from legislation to protect them against smoking. It is possible that people from deprived neighbourhoods may visit establishments in affluent areas, whereas those living in affluent neighbourhoods make the reverse journey. It is more likely that the poorest people with the worst health and highest smoking prevalence would be those most likely to be harmed by passive smoking either working in pubs or as customers, and would be those most likely to have their attempt to stop smoking undermined. We urge the UK government to ban smoking in all enclosed public places, similar to the ban proposed in Scotland and enacted in Ireland, to prevent worsening health inequalities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

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Authors

  • Alan A. Woodall

  • Emma J. Sandbach

  • Catherine M. Woodward

  • Paul Aveyard

  • Graham Merrington

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