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Head To Head

Should smoking in outside public spaces be banned? Yes

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 12 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2806
  1. George Thomson, senior research fellow1,
  2. Nick Wilson, senior lecturer1,
  3. Richard Edwards, associate professor1,
  4. Alistair Woodward, professor2
  1. 1University of Otago, Wellington, Box 7343, Wellington, New Zealand
  2. 2University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to: G Thompson george.thomson{at}

    After success in stopping smoking in public buildings, campaigns are turning outdoors. George Thomson and colleagues argue that a ban will help to stop children becoming smokers but Simon Chapman (doi:10.1136/bmj.a2804) believes that it infringes personal freedom

    Legislation to ban smoking indoors in public places is now commonplace, driven mainly by the need to protect non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. A new domain for tobacco control policy is outdoor settings, where secondhand smoke is usually less of a problem. However, the ethical justification for outdoor smoking bans is compelling and is supported by international law. The central argument is that outdoor bans will reduce smoking being modelled to children as normal behaviour and thus cut the uptake of smoking. Outdoor smoke-free policies may in some circumstances (such as crowded locations like sports stadiums) reduce the health effects of secondhand smoke1; will reduce fires and litter2; and are likely to help smokers’ attempts at quitting.

    Need to reduce modelling

    There is no simple answer …

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