Aim: To investigate trends in smoking cessation before and after the introduction of Scottish smoke-free legislation and to assess the perceived influence of the legislation on giving up smoking and perceptions of the legislation in smokers.
Design, setting and participants: Longitudinal data on smoking cessation were obtained from 1998 to 2007 on a cohort of 3350 Scottish adults aged between 50 and 75 years at baseline. All members of the cohort were participating in a clinical trial of aspirin in people at moderately increased risk of cardiovascular events. A subgroup of 474 participants who had smoked in the year prior to the introduction of legislation in March 2006 also completed a questionnaire on the influence and perceptions of the smoke-free legislation following its introduction.
Measurements: Smoking status was recorded yearly, including dates of quitting and restarting. Participants who gave up smoking for at least 3 months were recorded as having quit smoking. The questionnaire included scales on whether the smoke-free legislation had helped/influenced cessation, made the individual think about/prompt them to quit and perceptions of the legislation.
Findings: The odds of smokers quitting annually increased throughout the 7-year period prior to introduction of the smoke-free legislation to 2 years afterwards (odds ratio 1.09, 95% confidence interval 1.05-1.12, P<0.001). During 2006, the pattern of quarterly quitting rates changed, with an increase in quit rates (to 5.1%) in the 3-month period prior to introduction of the legislation (January-March 2006). Socio-economic status was not related to smoking cessation. In the subgroup completing the questionnaire (n=474), 57 quit smoking between June 2005 and May 2007 and 43.9% of these said that the smoke-free legislation had helped them to quit. Most (>70%) smokers were positive about the legislation, especially those from more affluent compared with more deprived communities (P=0.01).
Conclusions: The Scottish smoke-free legislation was associated with an increase in the rate of smoking cessation in the 3-month period immediately prior to its introduction. Overall quit rates in the year the legislation was introduced and the subsequent year were consistent with a gradual increase in quit rates prior to introduction of the legislation. Socio-economic status was not related to smoking cessation, but individuals from more affluent communities were more positive about the legislation.