Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) poses serious and extensive health and economic-related consequences to European society and worldwide. Smoking bans are a key measure to reducing SHS exposure but have been implemented with varying levels of success. We assessed changes in the prevalence of self-reported SHS exposure and smoking behaviour in public places among smokers in six European countries and the influence of the country’s type of smoking ban (partial or total ban) on such exposure and smoking behaviour.
The EUREST-PLUS ITC Europe Surveys were conducted among adult smokers in Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Spain in 2016 (Wave 1, n=6,011) and 2018 (Wave 2, n=6,027). We used generalised estimating equations models to assess changes between Waves 1 and 2 and to test the interaction between the type of smoking ban and 1) self-reported SHS exposure, 2) self-reported smoking in public places.
A significant decrease in self-reported SHS exposure was observed in workplaces, from 19.1% in 2016 to 14.0% in 2018 (-5.1%; 95% CI: -8.0%;-2.2%). Self-reported smoking did not change significantly inside bars (22.7% in W2), restaurants (13.2% in W2) and discos/nightclubs (34.0% in W2). SHS exposure in public places was significantly less likely (OR=0.35; 95% CI: 0.26-0.47) in the countries with total bans as compared to those countries with partial bans.
The inverse association between smoking in public places and smoking bans indicates an opportunity for strengthening smoke-free legislation and protecting bystanders from exposure to SHS in public places.