EFFECT OF A PUBLIC SMOKING BAN ON PATTERNS OF SMOKING BEHAVIOR IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND
The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland instituted a public smoking ban in 2004 and 2007, respectively. This study examines changes in reported smoking behavior between the two jurisdictions following the introduction of the bans.
Using the data from the Republic of Ireland SLAN survey (years 2002 and 2007) and the Northern Ireland Health Survey (2005 and 2010), we calculated the percentage of the population who were current smokers before and after the introduction of a ban on smoking in public places. We estimated the socioeconomic gradient in current smoking status using current income as a socioeconomic ranking variable and correcting for the dichotomous nature of smoking status using Erreygers’ correction. The concentration index has a value between -1 and +1, where 0 represents perfect equality – smoking behavior is distributed across socioeconomic groups in a manner proportionate to their representation in the population. Positive values of the concentration index denote a distribution in which the rich are over-represented among smokers and negative values in which the poor are over-represented among smokers.
In the Republic of Ireland the mean age of respondents in 2002 was 46.2 years with 59% being female and 46.8 years with 58% being female in 2007. The percentage of the population who currently smoke fell from 28.4% to 26.9% percent between 2002 and 2007. The concentration index prior to introduction of the public smoking ban was -0.0714 (95%CI: -0.0428, -0.1000) and fell after the ban to -0.0873 (95%CI: -0.0659, -0.1087). In Northern Ireland the mean age of the sample was 48.3 years and the percentage female approximately 59% in 2005; for 2010, the figures were 49.9 years with 59% female, respectively. The estimated concentration index prior to the public smoking ban was -0.1595 (95%CI: -0.1252, -0.1938) and after the ban the socioeconomic gradient sharpened with concentration index equal to -0.1860 (95%CI: -0.1522, -0.2198).
The introduction of a smoking ban in the Republic of Ireland and subsequently in Northern Ireland appeared to reduce smoking prevalence rates in both jurisdictions and sharpen the socioeconomic gradient in current smoking behavior. However, while the drop in current smoking status in Northern Ireland approached statistical significance, in neither jurisdiction was the decrease in prevalence nor the change in socioeconomic gradient, statistically significant.