By Join Together Staff February 14, 2012 Leave a comment Filed in Legislation, Prevention & Tobacco

Smoking bans in public places such as restaurants and offices lead people to smoke less at home, a new European study concludes.

The study included 4,600 smokers in four countries with smoke free laws France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands, as well as 1,080 smokers in Britain, at a time when that country had no public smoke free laws.

The study found that before smoke free laws went into effect in those four countries, most smokers had at least partial restrictions on smoking in their homes. After the laws went into effect, the percentage of smokers who did not allow smoking in their home rose by 38 percent in Germany, 28 percent in the Netherlands, 25 percent in Ireland and 17 percent in France, Reuters reports.

In contrast, the percentage of smokers who banned smoking in their homes did not significantly increase in Britain.

Some critics of laws that ban smoking in public places argue that they will encourage people to smoke more at home, possibly increasing the exposure of children to secondhand smoke, the article notes. Researcher Ute Mons of the German Cancer Research Center said the study suggested the opposite is true. “On the contrary, our findings demonstrate that smoke free legislation may stimulate smokers to establish total smoking bans in their homes,” she wrote in the journal Tobacco Control.

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Tobacco or medicinal product? europe divided over e-cigarettes

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BRUSSELS Should electronic cigarettes be regulated as tobacco products? Or are they medicinal devices that should only be sold in pharmacies?

That s the debate brewing in Europe after a vote on October 8 by the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

As part of a legislative package aimed at discouraging young people from smoking tobacco, European lawmakers approved a draft law that would regulate the marketing of electronic cigarettes.

The bill still must be approved by the 28 European Union government leaders in the European Council.

The council recommended in June that e cigarettes should be regulated as medicinal products that could help smokers quit a step that would make the devices available only in pharmacies.

But after intense lobbying from the growing electronic cigarette industry, which includes powerful global tobacco companies, the European Parliament refused to heed the council s recommendation.

Instead, lawmakers in Strasbourg voted for the marketing of e cigarettes to be regulated in the same way that tobacco marketing is regulated.

That means sales of e cigarettes to children under 18 would be banned in the European Union, along with most advertising. Health warning labels also would be required.

But the smokeless vaporizing devices and their nicotine cartridge refills could still be sold in tobacco shops and specialist stores.

What Comes Next?

The vote has set the stage for an e cigarette tussle in Brussels. Will the council agree that e cigarettes should be treated like tobacco? Or will the council continue to insist that e cigarettes should be regulated as medicinal devices?

MEP Linda McAvan, a member of Britain s Labour Party, will serve as the European Parliament s rapporteur during negotiations on the issue with the European Council.

McAvan says all members of the European parliament agree that e cigarettes cannot be unregulated on the market. The debate boils down to how they should be regulated.

McAvan says she is certain there is a basis for compromise with EU governments that insist on medicinal regulations.

“Obviously, the European parliament has got a position which is the opposite of that in the sense that it is to be not medicines,” she says. “But at the same time, there are some common elements which are that there should be a regulatory framework. So I think we have to start a dialogue. It s difficult to predict what my colleagues in the European Parliament would accept and what the governments in the European Council will accept. But we ll start those negotiations quite soon.”

Research shows that about 85 percent of e cigarette users start because they want to wean themselves off the habit of smoking tobacco.

The devices vaporize liquid from cartridges that contain different amounts of nicotine, allowing users to gradually reduce their nicotine consumption.

E cigarette consumers say they are “vaping,” rather than smoking.

Helpful Or Harmful?

“It is probably less harmful because it doesn&#39 t contain any byproducts from the burning of tobacco,” one e cigarette user in the Czech capital, Prague, told RFE/RL. “It&#39 s also cheaper. And it&#39 s not smoking. It is something completely different and it takes some getting used to. I have given up tobacco completely. I haven&#39 t smoked a cigarette for 18 months now. And I started smoking when I was 15, so it had been more than 40 years of smoking .”

But Francesco Blasi, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Milan and the former president of the European Respiratory Society, told RFE/RL that e cigarettes are still too new to be sure about the long term health implications.