University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Study Suggests HUD’s New Smoke-Free Policy Will Help More Low-Income Smokers Quit

Living in Smoke-Free Homes - Which Is Far More Common Among Higher-Income People - Improves the Odds of Quitting

By Laura Kurtzman | UCSF.edu | July 27, 2018

Study Suggests HUD’s New Smoke-Free Policy Will Help More Low-Income Smokers Quit

Enforcing residential bans on smoking could help large numbers of low-income people quit smoking, according to an analysis of federally funded national surveys by a California research team. The finding comes as public housing authorities across the country face a July 31st deadline from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement indoor no-smoking policies.

The study, published Friday, July 27, 2018, in PLOS ONE, analyzes data from the National Cancer Institute funded Tobacco Use Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey—which asked about smoking habits, whether people allowed smoking in their homes, and whether they were able to quit—over a 10-year period from 2002 to 2011.

It found that, while low-income smokers were significantly less likely to live in smoke-free homes, those who did live in such homes were much more likely to be successful quitters. Implementing smoke-free policies in low-income housing is one way to increase the number of smoke-free homes, and the authors said this has the potential to affect a large group of vulnerable people. Public housing serves more than 1.2 million low-income households, including 700,000 children, predominantly from racial and ethnic minority groups. They said the impact of indoor no-smoking policies would likely be greater if low-income people in public housing also had access to smoking cessation programs. 

“Our findings imply that having a smoke-free policy could actually increase cessation rates among the very populations in public housing that are disproportionately affected by tobacco use,” said Maya Vijayaraghavan, MD, MAS, assistant professor of medicine at UC San Francisco and the study’s first author. 

“We haven’t thought of adopting a smoke-free home policy as a type of smoking cessation intervention, but our study shows that it can be an effective cessation mediator at the population level,” she said. “Given how many people this will ultimately affect, including hundreds of thousands of children from racial and ethnic minority groups who are disproportionately affected by exposure to secondhand smoke, this represents an unprecedented opportunity to reduce health disparities related to tobacco use.”

Smokers tend to be concentrated among low-income populations, a trend that intensified over the time period under study. Smokers also got significantly older, as younger people are increasingly less likely to start smoking. Smokers were also less likely to live in states with strong tobacco control policies, such as high tobacco taxes or tobacco control expenditures.

 

Read more at UCSF.edu