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Quit attempts in response to smoke-free legislation in England
  1. Lucy Hackshaw1,
  2. Andy McEwen2,
  3. Robert West2,
  4. Linda Bauld1
  1. 1UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  2. 2Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London, UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Lucy Hackshaw, UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK; l.e.hackshaw{at}


Objectives To determine whether England's smoke-free legislation, introduced on 1 July 2007, influenced intentions and attempts to stop smoking.

Design and setting National household surveys conducted in England between January 2007 and December 2008. The sample was weighted to match census data on demographics and included 10 560 adults aged 16 or over who reported having smoked within the past year.

Results A greater percentage of smokers reported making a quit attempt in July and August 2007 (8.6%, n=82) compared with July and August 2008 (5.7%, n=48) (Fisher's exact=0.022); there was no significant difference in the number of quit attempts made at other times in 2007 compared with 2008. In the 5 months following the introduction of the legislation 19% (n=75) of smokers making a quit attempt reported that they had done so in response to the legislation. There were no significant differences in these quit attempts with regard to gender, social grade or cigarette consumption; there was however a significant linear trend with increasing age (χ2=7.755, df=1, p<0.005). The prevalence of respondents planning to quit before the ban came into force decreased over time, while those who planned to quit when the ban came into force increased as the ban drew closer.

Conclusion England's smoke-free legislation was associated with a significant temporary increase in the percentage of smokers attempting to stop, equivalent to over 300 000 additional smokers trying to quit. As a prompt to quitting the ban appears to have been equally effective across all social grades.

  • Smoking ban
  • Smoke-free
  • Quit attempts
  • Intention to quit
  • England
  • cessation
  • public policy

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  • Funding This study was part-funded by Cancer Research UK, who had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, in the writing of the report or the decision to submit the paper for publication. All the authors are members of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, the ESRC, the MRC and the NIHR, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged.

  • Competing interests LH and LB have no competing interests regarding this paper.

    AMc and RW have both received research and travel funding from, and undertaken consultancy for, manufacturers of smoking cessation medications (GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, McNeil Healthcare (UK) Limited, Novartis Consumer Health and Pfizer Ltd).

  • Ethical approval Ethical approval was sought and gained from the University College London Graduate School Ethics Committee.

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