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An Observational Study of the Secondary Effects of a Local Smoke-Free Ordinance
  • Published Date:
    Jun 15 2011
  • Source:
    Prev Chronic Dis. 2011; 8(4).
Filetype[PDF-543.29 KB]

  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:

    The secondary, sometimes unintended effects of smoke-free ordinances have not been thoroughly evaluated. In this observational study, we evaluated the association of a local ordinance implemented in Madison, Wisconsin, with changes in public disturbances; smoking, drinking, and bar-going behaviors in the general population; and smoking and drinking behaviors among university students.


    We obtained data from 4 sources: police records, key informant interviews, a community survey, and an undergraduate survey. Except for interviews, which we conducted postenactment only, we compared measures before and after the ordinance was put into effect.


    We found no evidence of association of the ordinance with public disturbances. We found that the ordinance was not associated with changes in smoking rates, drinking rates, or bar-going in the general population, although bar-going decreased among the 16% of the general adult population who smokes (from 84% in 2005 to 70% in 2007, P < .001). Student smoking rates also decreased (from 23% in 2005 to 16% in 2007, P < .001), but student binge drinking did not change.


    The study adds unique information to the evidence base on the effect of smoke-free policies, finding little evidence of their secondary, unintended effects. With the addition of these results to existing evidence, we conclude that the potential health benefits of smoke-free ordinances outweigh the potential harms from unintended effects.

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