Butting out: State smoking ban leads more to kick the habit

A climb in quitting: Minnesota's recent smoking ban has led to increases in several measures of ways that people try to stop smoking.
A climb in quitting: Minnesota's recent smoking ban has led to increases in several measures of ways that people try to stop smoking.Courtesy Saudi...
I had some fun on the eve of the start of the state smoking ban in October with a post about how Ireland’s accordions are cleaner now that the smoking is not allowed in public places.

That post generated a lot of debate on if a state should be involved in regulating people’s health habits. Now comes this headline in today’s Star-Tribune: Since the smoking ban started, efforts by people to quit smoking in Minnesota have jumped significantly.

How do we know this? There’s a lot more action on the stop-smoking efforts.

Blue Cross-Blue Shield reports a 43 percent jump in traffic on its telephone hotline used for people wanting immediate support in their effort to quit. And during the month of the start of the smoking ban, there was a tripling in the sales of nicotine patches and other quitting aids by members of the same health plan.

Blue Cross is not alone -- insurer Medica has seen a 40 percent climb in its members wanting to use smoking cessation counseling programs.

What’s going on with all of this? It may be too early to tell yet, but cessation advocates say that the smoking ban especially targets younger people. The ban doesn’t allow for smoking in bars or nightclubs, and younger people often like to smoke when they’re out partying. Now, if young smokers want to be out on the nightlife scene, they have to divide their time with inside reveling and outdoor smoking, experts surmise. Non-smokers get to stay inside where the action is.

And they’re careful to note that quitting smoking is a long, hard process. Successful quitters usually have to try quitting a number of times before they’re unhooked. But the advocates say that it’s a nice, early, unintended consequence so early in the smoking ban’s life.

Here are some tips on how to stop smoking from another recent Science Buzz posting.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Bob from ALAMN's picture

Those of us in the tobacco cessation field have known for some time that laws limiting smoking in indoor workplaces is tied directly to more adults quitting. Education displays like SMM's "Body Worlds" exhibit on the effects of smoking (we were an educational partner for the Body Worlds exhibit) also help people quit. So do youth focused programs, as well as higher prices for tobacco products. We expect the number of adult smokers to decline in the next statewide health survey. Here's another (free!) service for people who want to quit: the Lung HelpLine: 1-800-LUNG-USA.

Bob Moffitt
Communications Director
American Lung Association of Minnesota

posted on Wed, 12/12/2007 - 8:24am
sexy beast's picture
sexy beast says:

smoking is REALLY FREAKING BADDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! shame on you if you smoke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Wed, 12/19/2007 - 1:07pm
gordwick's picture
gordwick says:

I would like to a correction: smoking is not a habit, it's an addiction, there is a big difference between these two terms. I really hope that smoking ban would bring breeze of "fresh air" for smokers lungs but I doubt these results will be significant.
Suboxone treatment

posted on Wed, 03/12/2008 - 10:26am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I don't know: for some people, smoking is definitely an addiction. But for others, it is a habit. There are tons and tons of "social smokers": people who smoke, infrequently, in certain situations and no others. For them, the motivation to smoke isn't an addiction. And the smoking bans probably do cut down on a lot of this sort of smoking.

(Smoking is never healthy, no matter how little you indulge. Many so-called "social smokers" eventually become regular smokers. And there's no way to know in advance whether or not you're one of the people who actually gets addicted, so it's best to just not do it at all.)

posted on Wed, 03/12/2008 - 11:22am
Skier chick's picture
Skier chick says:

Did you know that kissing a smoker, is like licking an ash tray?

posted on Wed, 03/12/2008 - 2:29pm
Joe Anthem's picture
Joe Anthem says:

There should be no shame about smoking, but it does harm the body. One of the problems that keeps people from quitting for good is that there is so much shame assosciated with smoking. When quitting is based on shame, people don't quit for good, they just quit until they don't feel shame anymore.

posted on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 12:26pm
kali0082's picture
kali0082 says:

Being a resident of Minnesota, it is amazing to experience the difference that a smoking ban makes on the community. The Freedom to Breathe Act was just passed in 2007, banning smoking from restaurants and bars throughout the state. It is absolutely unbelievable the difference this has made. I have noticed (and appreciated!) first-hand the impact this ban has had on many establishments. Smoking has really become socially unacceptable.

posted on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 4:36pm

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