A recent study suggests that the distance from smokers’ home to the tobacco shop may have a great influence on the likelihood for the smokers to kick the habit.
Researchers found that for every extra one-third of a mile on their way to the tobacco vendor there is between 20 percent and 60 percent higher chance for the smoker to quit smoking.
The recent research involved data on more than 20,000 active and former smokers in Finland. Study authors planned to learn whether the walking distance between a smoker’s household and the nearest tobacco vendor had any influence on quitting odds.
The study also revealed that while walking distance hiked the chances of quitting it had no influence on resuming the habit. Researchers acknowledged that they didn’t find a cause-and-effect link, but the association is relatively strong.
Smoking cessation experts believe that the recent findings should be put to good use. One expert noted that placing tobacco outlets farther from residential homes within urban areas could encourage mass-quitting.
Other experts noted that the recent findings are direct evidence that tobacco retail stores and their promotion strategies can boost smoking rates within a community. One expert said lawmakers and community leaders should once and for all acknowledge the risks of such outlets in their communities.
Critics of the study, on the other hand, said that the findings are rather fuzzy. One expert said that the latest study “raises more questions than it answers.” For instance, the expert is curious to learn whether driving farther could have the same impact on smoking quitting rates.
Furthermore, smokers that are accustomed to walking long distances are more likely to quit smoking if they were forced to walk farther to their tobacco shop? Study critics said that these questions among others need to be addressed in a future study before jumping to conclusions.
The latest study was published this week in the JAMA Internal Medicine.
In the U.S., smoking remains the largest cause of death that can be prevented. Annually, cigarettes kill over 480,000 people in the U.S. alone. Of that, about 41,000 Americans die from second-hand smoke.
Smoking-linked conditions cost states and the federal government $300 billion each year, of which $156 billion represent lost productivity and $170 billion direct health care costs.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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