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Majority Of Americans Favor Public Smoking Bans

July 16, 2011

More than half of all Americans believe that smoking should be banned in all public places, but less than one in five US residents feel that the habit should be made completely illegal throughout the country, according to the results of a Gallop poll published on Friday.

In a telephone poll conducted by the Princeton, New Jersey-based research firm, 59-percent of those contacted said that they supported the prohibition of smoking in public. It marked the first time since Gallop began asking the question in 2001 that a majority of all Americans supported such bans, according to a July 15 article by Grant McCool of Reuters.

However, Gallop also discovered that just 19-percent of those polled said that they were in favor of a federal ban on smoking in the US. In 2001, 39-percent were in favor of a ban on public smoking, while 14-percent were in favor of making smoking illegal.

Furthermore, 22-percent of the adults polled stated that they had smoked cigarettes within the last week, which Gallop reports is “essentially unchanged” over the past five years.

“On average, closer to 25% of American adults reported smoking between 1989 and 2007,” they said in a statement posted to their official press release. “Before that, Gallup surveys ranging back to World War II found the percentage who smoke in the 30% to 40% range. The highest smoking percentage as measured by Gallup was 45% in 1954.

“Anti-smoking sentiment has risen in the United States in recent years,” McCool said. “New York, the country’s most populous city of 8 million, bans smoking cigarettes in almost all public places, including outdoor plazas and beaches. The District of Columbia and 27 states have passed smoke-free laws.”

The survey was conducted from July 7 through July 10 and featured a random sample of more than 1,000 adults over the age of 18, including representatives of all 50 states and Washington DC. According to Reuters, the margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 4-percent.

“Gallup did not ask Americans this year about bans on smoking in specific venues such as restaurants, bars, hotels, and workplaces,” the pollsters said on their website. “However, data on such policies from Gallup’s research last July showed that, when given the options of a total ban, setting aside certain areas for smokers, or no restrictions at all, Americans were generally less likely to choose the total ban and more likely to select the ‘set aside’ idea.”

“The one exception to this pattern was restaurants, in which Americans favored a total ban on smoking. It’s possible that the broad question about making smoking totally illegal in public places would produce different results if the option for setting aside areas for smokers had been included,” they added.

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