Tob Control 23:204-207 doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050877
  • Brief report

Do smoke-free policies in work and public places increase smoking in private venues?

  1. Esteve Fernández1,2,4
  1. 1Tobacco Control Unit, Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Institut Català d'Oncologia—ICO, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Cancer Control and Prevention Group, Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge-IDIBELL, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3Biostatistics Unit, Department of BASIC Sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Spain
  4. 4Department of Clinical Sciences, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  5. 5Department of Global Epidemiology, Clinical Safety & Epidemiology, Novartis Farmacéutica SA, Barcelona, Spain
  6. 6Department of Epidemiology, IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche ‘Mario Negri’, Milan, Italy
  7. 7Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jose M Martínez Sánchez,  Unitat de Control del Tabaquisme, Institut Català d'Oncologia, Av Gran Via de L'Hospitalet 199-203, 08908 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain; jmmartinez{at}
  • Received 6 November 2012
  • Accepted 27 March 2013
  • Published Online First 25 April 2013


Objective To evaluate the correlation between the implementation of tobacco control policies, particularly smoke-free bans at work and in public places, and smoking prevalence in private venues in the 27 countries of the European Union.

Design Ecological study with the country as the unit of analysis.

Data sources Data analysis of tobacco control activities in European countries in 2007 as compiled in the Tobacco Control Scale (TCS) and information on the level of smoking permissiveness in houses and cars from the Special Eurobarometer on Tobacco conducted in 2009.

Analysis Spearman rank-correlation coefficients (rsp) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.

Results The correlation between the TCS score and the prevalence of smoking in private venues (houses and cars) where smoking inside was always allowed was close to zero. A similar lack of association was observed between the TCS score of specific bans at work and in public places and smoking rules inside houses and cars. There was a non-significant direct correlation between the TCS score and the prevalence of smoke-free houses (rsp=0.21, 95% CI −0.19 to 0.55) and a non-significant inverse correlation with smoking allowed in certain rooms inside the house (rsp=−0.34; 95% CI −0.64 to 0.05).

Conclusions Smoke-free legislation in workplaces and public places is not correlated with increased smoking prevalence in private venues (houses and cars) at an ecological level.

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