Connecting state and local government leaders

Poll Finds One-Quarter of Americans Believe Smoking Should be Banned

A pack of cigarettes

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Connecting state and local government leaders

It’s a new high mark in a nearly three decade poll, but still far short of a majority.

One-quarter of American adults now say smoking should be completely outlawed in the U.S., according to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this month.

Gallup has been asking American’s for nearly three decades whether they believe smoking in the country should be made “totally illegal.” The 25 percent of respondents who said “yes,” in a July 1-11 poll, is the highest percentage of people who responded that way to date.

Since 1990, support for making smoking illegal in the U.S. has fluctuated between 11 percent and 24 percent in Gallup’s polling.

While the latest figure is high compared to previous poll results, an article Gallup published about the findings notes it is still well short of a majority. “Though many acknowledge the negative health effects, that doesn't mean they are prepared to ban smoking outright,” the article says.

There’s been a sharp rise in the past two decades in the number of state and local governments that have placed restrictions on smoking in certain indoor spaces.

Nationally, 27 states and the District of Columbia had “smoke free” indoor air laws in place for private worksites, restaurants and bars, as of June 30, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since 2011, Gallup has found that support for prohibiting smoking in all public places has hovered between 55 percent and 59 percent—the level of support in the most recent results.

Referring to the survey question about whether smoking in public places should be banned, the Gallup article about the poll notes: “it's possible that the question's reference to ‘all public places’ suggests a more expansive ban than many Americans are willing to endorse.”

“In New York City, for example—where residents are already not allowed to smoke in certain outdoor areas—a city councilman has introduced a bill that would ban people from smoking while walking on sidewalks,” the article goes on to say.

Support for an outright smoking ban was higher among people older than 34, those who are Democrats, or lean Democratic, as opposed to Republicans, and women as opposed to men.

The Gallup poll results are based on phone interviews with 1,033 adults who are 18 and older living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Results based on the total sample of respondents have a +/- 4 percentage point margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level.

More about the findings can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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