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IARC: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Smoke-free Policies


IARC: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Smoke-free Policies (2009)

A handbook by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was published in 2009 as part of a series of handbooks for cancer prevention. The guide addresses the effectiveness, impacts and evolution of smoke-free policies. The handbook is intended to support the design and implementation of smoke-free legislation in countries that are considering legal measures to create smoke-free environments. It especially acknowledges the need for smoke-free policies in many developing countries that are lacking effective smoke-free legislation.

Effective public policies are needed to regulate and eliminate involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke. The handbook draws conclusions of peer-reviewed literature from the late 1990s up to 2009 on the effectiveness on smoke-free policies and health effects of secondhand smoke to support the enactment of these regulations.

Body of evidence regarding smoke-free policies presented in the handbook covers

  1. the harmful health effects of the exposure to secondhand smoke,
  2. the economic impact for businesses in the hospitality sector,
  3. the level of public support and changes in attitudes towards smoke-free policies,
  4. outcomes and short-term health consequences of implemented regulations,
  5. effects that mandated restrictions have on smoking behavior, and
  6. benefits of voluntary smoking restrictions in households.

The handbook will benefit tobacco control programs especially at the enactment stage of a smoke-free policy or law. Understanding the importance of public awareness and political support is the key for successfully implementing smoke-free policies. To gain public acceptance for new legislation, and to reject and respond to strategies used by opponents, scientific evidence will be needed.

Creating smoke-free environments is one of the key objectives of the WHO FCTC, aiming to prevent exposure to secondhand smoke. Article 8 of the WHO FCTC provides guidelines for implementing a comprehensive smoke-free legislation, which are presented in the handbook. The guide also introduces a range of smoke-free policies that have been enacted and implemented all over the world, starting from the first smoke-free workplace regulations in the mid-1990s.

Source: IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Tobacco Control, Vol. 13: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Smoke-free Policies (2009: Lyon, France).

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