Smoke-free policies in outdoor settings are becoming increasingly common. Economic and social conditions tend to influence tobacco use patterns as well as exposure to secondhand smoke. Thus, active and passive smoking are both health equity and social justice concerns.

Smoking on the Margins is a multi-component,mixed-methods project that applies an ethical framework to outdoor smoke-free policies in order to identify both concerns and opportunities to promote health and health equity.

Justification for smoke-free policies

Smoke-free spaces are primarily justified on the basis of three goals:

1) Reducing exposure to secondhand smoke;

2) Encouraging people to quit smoking; and

3) Preventing youth smoking initiation.

Smoke-free policies in parks and beaches may have a small positive population health impact. Such policies reduce secondhand smoke exposure by eliminating a combination of circumstances that create sufficient concentration of tobacco smoke to pose serious health risk; such bans may also facilitate smoking cessation or reduction for some people. There is little evidence to date,however, that smoke-free policies in parks and on beaches have an impact on the prevention of smoking initiation among youth.

As well, the documented positive benefits may be offset by other, unintended and/or inequitable burdens, such as when the stigmatization of smoking makes it harder for some smokers to quit or contributes to greater health inequalities.

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Notes/Citation Information

A poster presentation at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, Singapore.