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Feature News analysis

Outdoor smoking: fair or foul?

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 30 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5754
  1. Kim Painter
  1. McLean, Virginia, USA
  1. kimpainters{at}

Around the world, governments are considering, or instituting, bans on outdoor smoking. Many hospitals in England already ban smoking on their grounds. Kim Painter considers the public health benefits of prohibiting smokers from indulging in public places

How common are outdoor smoking bans?

While much less common than indoor bans, they are catching on. This summer, Sweden banned smoking in many outdoor spaces, including playgrounds, train platforms, and restaurant patios. The regional government of Catalonia has proposed a similar ban, prompting protests from restaurant owners in Barcelona. Smoking has been banned on the grounds of more than two thirds of NHS hospitals in England, according to Public Health England.1

What are the arguments for outdoor bans?

Outdoor smoking bans may make smoking less convenient and visible—possibly giving smokers more reasons to quit and giving non-smokers, especially young people, fewer chances to see smoking as …

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