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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Is there an impact of public smoking bans on self-reported smoking status and exposure to secondhand smoke?

Alisa B Naiman123*, Richard H Glazier124 and Rahim Moineddin125

Author Affiliations

1 Primary Care and Population Health, Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Studies, (2075 Bayview Avenue Room G1-06), Toronto, (M4N 3M5), Canada

2 Department of Community and Family Medicine, University of Toronto,(263 McCaul Street, 5th Floor) Toronto, (M5T 1W7), Canada

3 Department of Family Medicine, Toronto East General Hospital, (825 Coxwell Avenue, Room B-112), Toronto, (M4C 3E7), Canada

4 Department of Family Medicine, St. Michael's Hospital, (30 Bond Street), Toronto, (M5B 1W8), Canada

5 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, (155 College Street, Health Science Building, 6th Floor), Toronto (M5T 3M7), Canada

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:146  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-146

Published: 3 March 2011



Implementation of smoke free policies has potentially substantial effects on health by reducing secondhand smoke exposure. However little is known about whether the introduction of anti-smoking legislation translates into decreased secondhand smoke exposure. We examined whether smoking bans impact rates of secondhand smoke exposure in public places and rates of complete workplace smoking restriction.


Canadian Community Health Survey was used to obtain secondhand smoking exposure rates in 15 Ontario municipalities. Data analysis included descriptive summaries and 95% confidence intervals were calculated and compared across groups


Across all studied municipalities, secondhand smoke exposure in public places decreased by 4.7% and workplace exposure decreased by 2.3% between the 2003 and 2005 survey years. The only jurisdiction to implement a full ban from no previous ban was also the only setting that experienced significant decreases in both individual exposure to secondhand smoke in a public place (-17.3%, 95% CI -22.8, -11.8) and workplace exposure (-18.1%, 95% CI -24.9, -11.3). Exposures in vehicles and homes declined in almost all settings over time.


Implementation of a full smoking ban was associated with the largest decreases in secondhand smoke exposure while partial bans and changes in existing bans had inconsistent effects. In addition to decreasing exposure in public places as would be expected from legislation, bans may have additional benefits by decreasing rates of current smokers and decreasing exposures to secondhand smoke in private settings.