Smoke-free outdoor areas could reduce health risks

20 September 2021

Governments should consider including private cars in smoke-free policies to protect child health, according to a systematic study review published in The Lancet.

While the link between smoke-free policies in enclosed public spaces and health benefits is already well established, the effect in other locations has been unclear. Reviewers searched 13 electronic databases for studies assessing the effects of smoke-free policies in outdoor areas, as well as in semi-private and private places – such as cars – on tobacco smoke exposure (TSE), TSE has been linked to various adverse respiratory health outcomes in children, such as respiratory tract infections and asthma.

A meta-analysis of the 11 eligible studies found smoke-free car policies were associated with an immediate TSE reduction among children, and could contribute to a slight reduction (0.2 to 2.4%) in asthma diagnoses in children.

The study said: ‘Despite the relatively modest reductions, more widespread [...] smoke-free policies might translate to important health benefits.’

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