Cancer center study shows state's workplace smoking laws are effective

Researchers at the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center report that Californias legislation prohibiting cigarette smoking in indoor workplaces is proving effective at reducing the amount of exposure to secondhand smoke among adult workers. These findings, based on data from telephone surveys conducted in 1990, 1992, 1996 and 1999, are reported in the May 2002 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Over the past decade, Californians have reported steadily decreasing exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace, as well as increased smoke-free home environments, which indicates that clean air legislation combined with education is making an impact, said the studys principal author, Elizabeth A. Gilpin, M.S. Although enforcement of workplace smoking restrictions continues to be a concern, these results are very encouraging. Gilpin is a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center and clinical professor of biostatistics at the UCSD School of Medicine.

Gilpin and colleagues report that the percentage of smoke-free workplaces in California increased from 35 percent in 1990 to more than 93 percent in 1999. The number of smoke-free homes doubled, from 36 percent in 1992 to 73 percent in 1999; importantly, nearly half of adult smokers reported living in smoke-free homes in 1999.

Being unable to smoke in ones home establishes norms against smoking around non-smokers, while also protecting children from asthma and other serious illnesses that can be triggered by secondhand smoke, explained Gilpin.

The UCSD report is based on analysis of the large, cross-sectional California Tobacco Surveys conducted by the Cancer Center periodically throughout the 1990s for the California Department of Health Services. The surveys included randomly selected adults over the age of 18.

Californias first comprehensive governmental tobacco control program was initiated in 1989, funded by Propositio

Contact: Nancy Stringer
University of California - San Diego

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