Previous studies have found extensive geographic and demographic differences in tobacco use. These differences have been found to be reduced by effective public policies, including banning smoking in public spaces. Smokefree outdoor spaces reduce secondhand smoke exposure and de-normalize smoking.
After previously publishing a study of smokefree indoor and outdoor space policies, it was brought to the authors’ attention that the dataset used in analyses was incomplete (Lowrie et al., BMC Public Health 17:456, 2017). The current manuscript is a corrected version. Here, we include analyses for outdoor space policies. We evaluated regional and demographic differences in the proportion of the population (both adult and child) covered by smokefree outdoor space policies for school grounds and playgrounds enacted in the United States prior to 2014.
Children had a low level of protection in playgrounds and schools (8% covered nationwide in both settings). Significant differences in coverage were found by ethnicity, region, income, and education (p < 0.001). The odds of having a smokefree playgrounds policy was lower for jurisdictions with higher proportions of poor households, households with no high school diploma, whites and the Alaska/Hawaii region. Increased ethnic heterogeneity was found to be a significant predictor of increased odds of having a smokefree playgrounds policy, meaning that diversity is protective, with differential effect by region (p < 0.001) – which may relate to urbanicity.
Disparities in smokefree outdoor space policies have potential to exacerbate existing health inequities. A national increase in smokefree outdoor space policies to protect children in playgrounds and schools is a crucial intervention to reduce such inequities.