Effect of Smoke-Free Legislation on Human Health

Two recent studies have considered the effect of smoke-free legislation bans on perinatal and child health. The first looks at smoke free legislation in England.[1] Their interrupted time series documents an immediate drop in stillbirths, low birth weight, and neonatal mortality following introduction of the legislation in July 2007. Interestingly, sudden infant death rates showed no change, perhaps because parents already avoided smoking at home?

The second paper is a systematic review of smoking bans in work places and/or public places, and at least one measure of health.[2] Eleven studies were identified, all interrupted time series. Again smoke free bans were associated with reductions in pre-term birth and hospital attendance for asthma, but this time no effect on birth weight was noted. The CLAHRC WM Director fancies himself as a libertarian. The limit on personal liberty is maternal risk of physical harm to others. He therefore supports smoke-free legislation.

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Been JV, Mackay DF, Millett C, Pell JP, van Schayck OCP, Sheikh A. Impact of smoke-free legislation on perinatal and infant mortality: a national quasi-experimental study. Sci Rep. 2015;5:13020.
  2. Been JV, Nurmatov UB, Cox B, Nawrot TS, von Schayck CP, Sheikh A. Effect of smoke-free legislation on perinatal and child health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2014;383:1549-600.

2 thoughts on “Effect of Smoke-Free Legislation on Human Health”

  1. Do I remember -correctly?- research into high rates of child lung ‘problems’. Idea was that lung problems were linked to smoking in the home environment. Turned out that poor housing, specifically damp, unheated home environments were the major factor. Am cautious about causal links but at the least the research demonstrated the dangers of jumping to conclusions?

  2. That rates of SIDS showed no change could of course also be due to parents continuing to smoke at home, as well as continuing to refrain from doing so.

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