As a non-smoker with many smoking friends living in a country without a smoking ban, going out can be quite a hassle sometimes. Staying in smoky rooms, the way the clothes smell after getting home… I feel like I may be smoking just as well. But as it turns out, smoking bans help smokers just as much as they help non-smokers – if not more.

According to a study by the University of California San Diego, measures like baning smoking in public places and work are actually very effective in helping smokers cut back or entirely quit.

“When there’s a total smoking ban in the home, we found that smokers are more likely to reduce tobacco consumption and attempt to quit than when they’re allowed to smoke in some parts of the house,” said Wael K. Al-Delaimy, MD, PhD, professor and chief of the Division of Global Health in the UC San Diego Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in a press statement. “The same held true when smokers report a total smoking ban in their city or town. Having both home and city bans on smoking appears to be even more effective.”

It’s estimated that in the US, 43.8 million people (19%) of all people smoke. Personally, I find that to be quite a high number, but just compare it to other places in the world: in Russia, China and Indonesia, some 80% of all adult males smoke – so installing smoking bans in public places could do a world of good – literally.

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Male adult smoking rates in the world. Via Wikipedia.

For the study, researchers surveyed 1,718 smokers in the state of California. They found that total smoking bans in homes was way more effective than partial bans, in terms of reducing smoking and quitting it. As for demographics, researchers showed that home smoking bans were more effective in reducing cigarette consumption among females and people over 65 years, while total state bans were more effective in male smokers quitting – this could help law-makers from across the world to install better bans.

In 1994, California became the first state to ban smoking and surprisingly or not, it received a very positive response. The benefits of this ban were evident, at first for non-smokers, and in time, for ex-smokers as well. Recently popular coffee café Starbucks banned smoking 25 feet near its stores – but only in the US. Unfortunately, they don’t plan on extending the ban in other countries.