Green spaces help smoking cessation

| 2nd November 2020 |
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Scientists found people residing in leafy neighbourhoods are less likely to smoke.

Nature-based interventions could be prescribed to assist individuals attempting to give up smoking.

People who smoke are more likely to successfully give up the habit if they live near green spaces, research suggests.

Scientists have also found that those residing in leafy neighbourhoods are less likely to smoke.

The research, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, is based on Health Survey for England (HSE) data from more than 8,000 adults.

Preserve

Leanne Martin, from the University of Plymouth, the lead author on the study, 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.”

Previous studies by the same team have shown that access to green space is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol and unhealthy foods as well as better physical and mental wellbeing.

This study emphasises the need to preserve existing green spaces and expand the development of new ones

Prevalence

Among those taking part in the survey, under one fifth (19 percent) described themselves as current smokers while almost half (45 percent) said they had regularly smoked at some point during their lives.

Analysis showed people living in areas with a high proportion of green spaces were 20 percent less likely to be current smokers than those in less green areas.

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

The authors suggest that improving access to green spaces could be factored into the public health strategy for reducing smoking prevalence.

Health

Mathew White, a senior scientist at the University of Vienna and honorary associate professor at the University of Exeter, is a co-author of the study.

He 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.”

This Author

Nilima Marshall is a PA science reporter.

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