Bans on Smoking in Bars May Reduce Alcohol Abuse, Study Suggests

Laws that ban smoking in bars and restaurants may reduce alcohol abuse, a new study suggests. Researchers found people identified as problem drinkers who live in states with smoking bans have a higher rate of remission, compared with problem drinkers who live in states without laws that ban public smoking.

Currently, 29 states have enacted public smoking bans in bars or restaurants, according to

“Smokers are three times more likely to abuse alcohol or meet criteria for dependence,” Yale University researcher Sherry McKee said in a news release. “We wanted to see if separating smoking and drinking changed drinking behavior. It does.”

The researchers used data from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to compare remission rates of people with alcohol use disorder in states that enacted smoking bans during the study period, to people who lived in states without bans between 2001-2002 and 2004-2005.

They found in states with no smoking bans, half of those with an alcohol use disorder experienced remission. The rate of remission in states with smoking bans was 61 percent.

The study appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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    Jim Sharp

    September 26, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    The relationship between heavy smoking and heavy drinking was established over 30 years ago. An item on the alcohol abuse screening test developed in Michigan (the Mortimer-Filkins Test)asked if more than 2 packs per day were smoked. Very few people who smoke 2 or more packs per day do not have a problem with alcohol. It’s interesting that changes in one factor (availability of place to smoke) influences the other (how much is drank).

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