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Smoke-free workplaces linked to smoke-free homes in India

Mar 25, 2013

A study done by Imperial College London and Public Health Foundation of India relates the need to prohibit smoking in work places to ensure people's homes remain smoke-free.

Adults in India are substantially more likely to abstain from smoking at home if they are prohibited from smoking at work, a new study has found.

According to data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India, 2009/2010, 64 per cent of adults who work in smokefree environments live in a smoke-free home, compared with 42 per cent of those who work where smoking is permitted. The proportion of smoke-free homes is higher in states with higher proportions of smokefree workplaces.
The authors of the study, from Imperial College London and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), say the findings suggest that the implementation of smoke-free legislation in India may have resulted in substantial health benefits for the population, particularly for women and children.

“This study suggests that, in India, there is good evidence that smoke-free laws in workplaces are associated with a reduction in second-hand smoke at home,” said John Tayu Lee, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, who led the study.

“The results support the idea of ‘norm spreading’, whereby restrictions on smoking in public places make it seem less acceptable to expose others to second-hand smoke more generally, including at home,” said Dr Christopher Millett, from the School of Public Health at Imperial. “They highlight the importance of accelerating the implementation of smoke-free legislation more widely in India.” Dr Millett is also a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at PHFI.

According to the survey, there are 110 million smokers in India. National legislation prohibiting smoking in public places and workplaces was introduced in 2008, but the law is not comprehensive as it permits designated smoking areas in large restaurants and hotels. Enforcement of the law is highly variable and the penalty is a modest fine of 200 rupees, equivalent to $3.80. Nationally, 30 per cent of adults report being exposed to second-hand smoke at work, with 52 per cent exposed at home.

“This is a very important and timely published study as Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India under its 12th Five year plan is scaling up its National Tobacco Control Program to all states of India. This evidence highlights effectiveness of smoke-free legislation in India and further highlights the changing norms in support of smokefree, which will provide substantial population level health benefits in India. India currently allows designated smoking areas under COTPA and evidence from this study does make a case for enforcing 100% smoke free public places to further enhance the impact of smoke-free legislation in India” added Dr Monika Arora, Director, Health Promotion & Tobacco Control, Public Health Foundation of India.

Studies in the USA, Ireland and Scotland have found that implementation of comprehensive smoke-free laws has been associated with reduced second-hand smoke in homes, but there has been little information about whether these benefits exist in low- and middle-income countries.

The research is published in Tobacco Control.

Source : PHFI
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