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UC San Diego Study Finds Total Smoking Bans Help Smokers To Quit

UC San Diego researchers surveyed 1,718 current California smokers.

Aired 12/20/13 on KPBS News.

Smoking bans do more than protect people against secondhand smoke - new research from UC San Diego finds they actually influence smokers to try to quit.

They found smokers who lived in a home where smoking is totally banned were more likely to cut back or try to quit, than those who lived where there’s only a partial ban.

UC San Diego’s Wael Al-Delaimy said his study reveals something else.

"Having a ban in the city, in beaches, parks, or even a total city ban, was as well an independent factor predicting such positive quitting behavior," Dr. Al-Delaimy explained.

California was the first state to prohibit smoking in public places in 1995. Restaurants and bars became smokefree in 1998.

Dr. Al-Dalaimy said the policy represented a major change.

"And that created a social norm, that is making it more difficult for smokers to smoke, and therefore, they decide to quit," he said.

Today, California has the second-lowest adult smoking rate in the nation.

San Diego State Professor C. Richard Hofstetter pointed out there’s another strategy that’s very effective in reducing smoking.

"And that’s simply raising taxes on cigarettes," Hofstetter said. "California has one of the lowest state taxes in the United States on cigarettes."

California's tobacco tax stands at 87-cents per pack, well below the national average of $1.53.

In 2012, California voters rejected a measure that would have hiked cigarette taxes $1-a-pack. The revenue would have gone in part to cancer research.