American Journal of Public Health Highlights
· Smoke-free laws don’t hurt bars’ profits or resale value
· Inner-city black youth face extra barriers when trying to quit smoking
· Large cigarette tax increases may reduce smoking but also lead to bootlegging
· Rising obesity rates not tied to drop in cigarette smoking
· Smokers looking to kick the habit should consider banning cigarettes at home
Smoke-free laws don’t hurt bars’ profits or resale value
Worries that smoke-free indoor air laws will affect a bar’s bottom line are unfounded, according to a study that found smoke-free laws don’t diminish the value of bar businesses.
Researchers utilized a database containing records of bar sales and cash flow and controlled for economic variables across geographic region and time. They found that smoke-free bars sold between 1993 and 2005 for prices comparable to similar bars in areas with no smoking restrictions. The study’s results also support previous research indicating that smoke-free laws do not put a damper on a bar’s profits.
[From: “Effect of Smoke-Free Laws on Bar Value and Profits.” Contact: Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, University of California San Francisco, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Inner-city black youth face extra barriers when trying to quit smoking
Smoking rates among black inner-city young adults ages 18-24 are alarmingly high, and several factors work together to thwart cessation efforts among this population.
For example, according to a survey of 156 black young adults in Baltimore, Md,, both smokers and non-smokers perceive smoking as a normal behavior that’s common and “essentially unproblematic.” In the inner city, young adults said they faced few smoking restrictions and could easily buy “loosies,” or single cigarettes.
“This easy and affordable way to purchase cigarettes from street vendors and stores undermines tax policies, promotes smoking as a normative behavior and may contribute to high smoking rates in some inner-city communities,” the study’s authors said. Although the Food and Drug Administration attempted to eradicate “loosies” in 1996, “current laws differ from state to state and enforcement is lax.”
Other influences associated with increased prevalence of smoking and lack of interest in quitting among inner-city black young adults are targeted advertising and marketing and promotion campaigns, including special promotions at bars and clubs. [From: “Barriers to Smoking Cessation in Inner-City African American Young Adults.” Contact: Frances A. Stillman, EdD, EdM, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, email@example.com.]
Large cigarette tax increases may reduce smoking but also lead to bootlegging
The public health goal of reducing tobacco use by raising cigarette taxes may be undermined in disadvantaged minority communities by illegal cigarette sales.
Members of 14 focus groups in Central Harlem, N.Y., told researchers that a large cigarette tax increase in New York City led to “a pervasive illegal cigarette market in a low-income minority community.” In an area where smoking rates were already likely to be higher than in the general population, even those motivated to quit were lured by bootleggers selling low-price cigarettes. “Although interest in quitting was high among the smokers we interviewed, bootleggers created an environment in which discounted cigarettes were easier to access than cessation services,” said the study’s authors. “Illegal cigarette sales continue to undermine the public health goals of the tax increase.”
The study found that acceptance of smoking in the community, a stressful social and economic environment and the availability of discounted cigarettes worked together to reinforce smoking and undermine efforts to quit. [From: “The $5 Man: The Underground Economic Response to a Large Cigarette Tax Increase in New York City.” Contact: Donna Shelley, MD, MPH, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Rising obesity rates not tied to drop in cigarette smoking
Many people may use a fear of weight gain as a reason not to stop smoking, but a recent study found the nation’s rising obesity rates are not tied to decreasing rates of cigarette smoking.
Researchers combined current weight data by smoking status from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey with smoking status from past surveys to estimate the potential impact of changes in smoking prevalence on the prevalence of obesity and healthy weight. Within all gender–age groups, smokers had a lower probability of obesity than did nonsmokers, sometimes considerably lower. Despite this, the study indicated that decreases in the prevalence of cigarette smoking probably had only a small effect, often less than one percentage point, on increasing the prevalence of obesity and decreasing the prevalence of healthy weight in the population.
The study also hypothesized that even if smoking were completely eliminated in the United States, the obesity rate would rise only slightly from 31.8 percent to 33.5 percent. [From: “Effects of Changes in Smoking Prevalence on Obesity Prevalence in the United States.” Contact: Katherine M. Flegal, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md., email@example.com.]
Smokers looking to kick the habit should consider banning cigarettes at home
While two of every five smokers try to quit each year, only 10 percent succeed in kicking the habit, but banning smoking at home could increase that success rate.
Researchers used data from the 2000 National Health Interview Study and compared characteristics of those who had tried unsuccessfully to quit within the previous year to those who were able to quit for at least the seven months leading up to the survey. After examining multiple factors that might be associated with successful smoking cessation, they found successful quitters were much more likely to have banned smoking in their homes. Those able to stay away from cigarettes were also less likely to have switched to so-called “light” cigarettes for health reasons, tended to be age 35 or older and were more likely to be married or living with a partner and to have a college education.
The study’s authors said their findings point to the need for a “holistic” approach to smoking cessation that includes smokers’ “family members, friends and colleagues while implementing smoke-free policies that support cessation.” [From: Factors Associated With Successful Smoking Cessation — United States, 2000.” Contact: Chung-won Lee, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga., firstname.lastname@example.org.]