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Public support in England for a total ban on the sale of tobacco products
  1. Lion Shahab,
  2. Robert West
  1. Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lion Shahab, Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 2-16 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK; lion.shahab{at}


Background This study aimed to determine the level of support for a sales ban on tobacco in England to provide a benchmark against which any changes over time can be assessed.

Methods 8735 people from England who participated in one of five monthly cross-sectional household surveys in 2008 were asked to indicate whether they would support the statement that ‘the government should work towards banning the sale of tobacco completely within the next 10 years’. In addition, sociodemographic and smoking characteristics were assessed.

Results A substantial proportion of the total sample (44.5%; 95% CI 43.5% to 45.6%) would support a move towards a complete ban. While never smokers (OR 2.02; 95% CI 1.82 to 2.25) and ex-smokers (OR 1.41; 95% CI 1.21 to 1.65) were more likely to support this idea, even among current smokers, a third would favour moving towards a sales ban of tobacco products. Adjusting for other background characteristics, younger, female participants, those living in London and those from lower socioeconomic groups were most likely to support a ban. Among smokers, a higher cigarette consumption, smoking enjoyment and contentment with being a smoker were associated with opposition to a ban, while feeling uncomfortable being a smoker, wanting to be a non-smoker and being worried about future health consequences of smoking were associated with support for a ban.

Conclusion Support for movement towards a ban on the sale of tobacco is higher than might be imagined. It is conceivable that as smoking prevalence falls further and smoking becomes more socially unacceptable, support might grow to a point where such a policy could become feasible.

  • Advocacy
  • end game
  • public opinion polls
  • public policy
  • tobacco products

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  • Funding Cancer Research UK, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson.

  • Competing interests LS has received an honorarium for a talk and travel expenses from Pfizer. RW undertakes research and consultancy for the following developers and manufacturers of smoking cessation treatments; Pfizer, J7J, McNeil, GSK, Nabi, Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis. RW also has a share in the patent of a novel nicotine delivery device.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.