Smoking Bans Motivate Even Reluctant Women to Quit

Release Date: September 1, 2011 | By Valerie DeBenedette, Contributing Writer
Research Source: American Journal of Health Promotion


  • Women smokers who live and work where smoking bans are enforced are more likely to make an attempt to quit, a new study finds.
  • Smoking bans at home or work appear to motivate some female smokers to spontaneously decide to quit.
  • In a survey, 29 percent of women lived and worked under a smoking ban, including 17 percent of African-American women, 17 percent of women without a high-school diploma and 21 percent of women making less than $25,000 a year.
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Many workplaces and households ban smoking and, for some women, the effects extend beyond their office building or family home. A new study finds that women smokers who live and work where bans are enforced, even those who did not make explicit plans to quit, are more likely to attempt quitting.

The difference is the “spur-of-the-moment” factor. Most people who want to quit smoking make a plan. They choose a day they will stop and they might stock up on nicotine gum or chewing gum or throw out all their ashtrays, for example. They might also keep telling themselves that they intend to quit someday. Even if they never act on that intention, it is there.

In other cases, the person decides to stop smoking without having planned or consciously created an intention to quit in advance

The new study uses data from a national survey of 7,610 women who work outside the home, 81 percent of whom said they smoked daily.

Twenty percent of women with home and work smoking bans said they intended to quit smoking, compared with 14 percent of those with work bans only, 20 percent with home bans only and 14 percent with smoking bans in neither place.

Yet, even women who said they had no intentions of quitting still made spontaneous attempts to quit, the study found, and a home ban appeared to have a slightly larger effect than a work ban. Thirty-four percent of women who had no prior intention of quitting but who had a ban only at home said they had attempted to quit, compared with 33 percent with bans at home and work and 25 percent with no bans.

“This is good news because smoke-free policies in the home may have an effect on increasing quit attempts regardless of motivation to quit,” said Allison Rose, lead study author, who works with SAIC-Frederick as a contractor to the National Cancer Institute. The study appears in the September-October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Only 29 percent of women surveyed reported that their home and workplaces banned smoking completely, but this varied with socioeconomic factors. Smoking bans were in both places for 17 percent of women with less than a high school education, 21 percent of those making less than $25,000 a year and 17 percent of African-American women.

The main goal of smoking bans is to keep people from harm from secondhand smoke, said Bill Blatt, director of tobacco programs at the American Lung Association. Getting smokers to stop smoking is an added benefit of the bans, he added.

It is not surprising that home bans are associated with more quit attempts because both are personal or family decisions, compared to workplace bans that an employee might have no control over, Blatt said. Someone who creates a home smoking ban usually is going to follow through on it, he said.

“Yet, less than one-third of our population of working women smokers reported that they work and live in smoke-free environments,” Rose said. “This suggests we have a lot more work to do to make sure that all women have full protection from secondhand smoke at both work and home.”

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American Journal of Health Promotion: Call (248) 682-0707 or visit

Rose A, et al. The role of worksite and home smoking bans in smoking cessation among U.S. employed adult female smokers. Am J Health Promo 26(1), 2011.

Tags for this article:
Smoking   Women's Health   Lifestyle and Prevention  

Comments on this article
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Danica Soulsby says
September 6, 2011 at 5:25 PM

I will never,ever quit smoking.If I had to choose between my work or smoking,I would choose smoking.If I had to choose between my husband and children and smoking, I would choose smoking.The more you people push this brain washing agenda,the more I want to smoke and get other people addicted and no,I don't work for the tobacco industry.I believe in my freedom and rights and if you try to take them away,I will boycott every product I can and promote my boycott to other people.When Michigan imposed their smoking ban,I have not gone out anywhere,stopped buying Michigan made products and have not bought one lottery ticket since the ban.I have saved over 10,000.00 since the ban started and the state has lost over 200 million since the ban.Goes to show you don't want to mess with us.My dream is to die with a cigarette in my mouth and a cup of coffee in my hand.I have gone as far that I put in my will that when I die,I wish to be cremated and my ashes be put in a carton of cigarettes and when my husband passes to put the carton in the coffin with him.The only way you will stop my smoking is to shoot me dead and even then I will have a cigarette in my mouth.There are more pressing issues in this world than for you to try to change my behavior.I smoked during my pregnancy and smoked around my kids even now and they're 21 and 18.They are extremely healthy.So stop spreading your lies.I will fight your type til the day I die.

Lisa LaRose says
February 17, 2013 at 7:15 AM

I hope you never have to eat those words about your children. They may be healthy now but can you predict if they will get cancer and have their lives cut short? They have been smoking since conception, probably a lot longer than you, if you add their childhood secondhand smoke. Our parents exposed us to smoke because they did not know the dangers of smoking to children, but now we do, so if we go by definition, ignorance is doing something because you don't know any better. Stupidity is doing something when you know better but do it anyway. By the way my father died from smoking and my little sister had cancer by the age of 20.
Don't be stupid.