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Do Smoking Bans Actually Work?

Posted in Personal Health 15 Oct, 2015

Stoptober is upon us and it's time to reflect on our smoking habits. If you smoke and want to give up, now is a good time. There are plenty of resources to help you. Two major smoking bans are in the news at the moment - a ban on smoking in enclosed cars with an under 18 and a ban in prisons. But do bans actually reduce the numbers of people smoking and those dying from it? What do the pro-smokers think about it?

Smoking In The Car


To say pro-smokers are not happy about all these bans in an understatement. Smokers believe our civil liberties and freedoms are under threat. Smoking is a personal choice they say, and it's not down to a government to decide where and when we do so. Fair play - we don't live under Stalin, we have the right to choose.


When I was a little girl my parents were heavy smokers. They still are, but thankfully I don't have to live with them anymore. When we would go out in the car they would both smoke whilst my brother and I choked in the back. If we complained then my mother would shout 'the window is open - stop complaining'. Yes, the window was open, by about 5mm. I think the ban is excellent. No one has the right to shut their kid in a sealed box and blow poison at them.

But will a ban on smoking in cars work? Well, I guess it'll work in the same way that the ban on mobile phones works. If you are seen by the law you will be stopped and fined. The fear factor of getting caught will put some off but others will continue. Gradually numbers will fall.

A Smoking Ban In Prisons


Pro smokers are against government enforced smoking bans whatever their place and believe that a sensible approach would be to give prisoners a choice - they could smoke outside for example.

Approximately 80% of inmates smoke and its thought the ban could lead to distress, self harm and increased violence as tobacco is used as an emotional prop.


There have been legal challenges by non-smoking prison officers and inmates indicating passive smoking has damaged their health. Prisons are workplaces so a ban is logical.

Supporters of the ban reiterate that it will be phased and inmates will be supported with e-cigarettes, patches and other nicotine-withdrawal props. Canada and New Zealand have already banned smoking in prisons, so it's not an unknown quarter.

Obviously this ban is enforceable, but I don't fancy being a prison warden when it comes in. I suspect major rioting will break out. I wonder what the new currency will become. Or have I watched too much Shawshank Redemption?

To my mind, smoking bans are a step in the right direction. Pro-smokers are welcome to smoke if they like it, so long as they don't poison others. Civil rights and liberties have to work both ways. A ban in cars and prisons is the right thing to do, the intentions are clear - it's to save the health and lives of those who do not want to breath in smoke. Whether it works or not remains to be seen.

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