Living near green space linked to lower rates of smoking and higher chances of quitting

October 30, 2020

People are significantly less likely to smoke - and are more likely to successfully quit - if they live in green neighbourhoods, new research has found.

The study is the first to demonstrate that access to neighbourhood greenspace is linked to lower rates of current smoking, and that this is due to higher rates of smoking cessation rather than lower uptake in these areas.

Researchers used data gathered through the Health Survey for England (HSE), conducted annually on behalf of the UK Office for National Statistics, and examined the responses of more than 8,000 adults to questions about their health, where they lived and various other lifestyle factors.

Of the HSE survey's respondents, just under one fifth (19%) described themselves as current smokers while almost half (45%) said they had regularly smoked at some point during their lives.

However, even after to taking into account other factors known to influence smoking, people living in areas with a high proportion of greenspace were 20% less likely to be current smokers than those in less green areas.

In addition, among people who had smoked at some point during their lives, those living in greener neighbourhoods were up to 12% more likely to have successfully quit smoking.

The authors suggest that improving access to greenspace may constitute an overlooked public health strategy for reducing smoking prevalence, especially given that smoking uptake and cessation are affected by stress.

Published in Social Science & Medicine, the research was led by psychologists from the University of Plymouth, the University of Exeter and the University of Vienna.

Previous studies by the same team have shown that being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy foods. They have also demonstrated that individuals who visit natural spaces weekly, and feel psychologically connected to them, report better physical and mental wellbeing.

Leanne Martin, from the University of Plymouth, the lead author on all three studies, said: "This study is the first to investigate the association between neighbourhood greenspace and smoking behaviours in England. Its findings support the need to protect and invest in natural resources - in both urban and more rural communities - in order to maximise the public health benefits they may afford. If our findings are substantiated by further work, nature-based interventions could be prescribed to assist individuals attempting to give up smoking."

The research also examined whether the link between greenspace and smoking was affected by factors including socio-economic status and neighbourhood deprivation. No such impacts were found and the study's authors say this suggests that high greenspace neighbourhoods are independently associated with a lower prevalence of current smoking, irrespective of the socio-demographic characteristics of the individuals who reside in them.

Co-author Mathew White, Senior Scientist at the University of Vienna and Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Exeter, said: "Despite a decline in prevalence within the general population over the last decade, smoking remains a devastating and global public health issue. Governments across the world spend billions each year trying to tackle it, both in an attempt to improve public health and reduce the strain on health services. This study emphasises the need to preserve existing green spaces and expand the development of new ones."

Co-author Sabine Pahl, Professor of Urban and Environmental Psychology at the University of Vienna and Honorary Professor of Applied Social Psychology at the University of Plymouth, added: "While there is now considerable evidence that natural spaces are associated with stress reduction and better well-being, this is the first study to my knowledge to show that more greenspace is also linked to a reduction in unhealthy behaviours. This is intriguing and suggests that the benefits of natural green and blue spaces may reach even further than initially thought."
-end-


University of Plymouth

Related Smoking Articles from Brightsurf:

Smoking rates falling in adults, but stroke survivors' smoking rates remain steady
While the rate of Americans who smoke tobacco has fallen steadily over the last two decades, the rate of stroke survivors who smoke has not changed significantly.

What is your risk from smoking? Your network knows!
A new study from researchers at Penn's Annenberg School for Communication found that most people, smokers and non-smokers alike, were nowhere near accurate in their answers to questions about smoking's health effects.

Want to quit smoking? Partner up
Kicking the habit works best in pairs. That's the main message of a study presented today at EuroPrevent 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Smoking and mortality in Asia
In this analysis of data from 20 studies conducted in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India with more than 1 million participants, deaths associated with smoking continued to increase among men in Asia grouped by the years in which they were born.

Predictors of successfully quitting smoking among smokers registered at the quit smoking clinic at a public hospital in northeastern Malaysia
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health, Nur Izzati Mohammad et al. consider how cigarette smoking is one of the risk factors leading to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory system diseases and cancer.

Restaurant and bar smoking bans do reduce smoking, especially among the highly educated
Smoking risk drops significantly in college graduates when they live near areas that have completely banned smoking in bars and restaurants, according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

How the UK smoking ban increased wellbeing
Married women with children reported the largest increase in well-being following the smoking bans in the UK in 2006 and 2007 but there was no comparable increase for married men with children.

Smoking study personalizes treatment
A simple blood test is allowing Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researchers to determine which patients should be prescribed varenicline (Chantix) to stop smoking and which patients could do just as well, and avoid side effects, by using a nicotine patch.

A biophysical smoking gun
While much about Alzheimer's disease remains a mystery, scientists do know that part of the disease's progression involves a normal protein called tau, aggregating to form ropelike inclusions within brain cells that eventually strangle the neurons.

A case where smoking helped
A mutation in the hemoglobin of a young woman in Germany was found to cause her mild anemia.

Read More: Smoking News and Smoking Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.