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Smoking Bans in Public Places Help Problem Drinks Cut Down on Drinking: Study

Update Date: Sep 27, 2012 08:02 AM EDT

After a recent study by Purdue University sociologistS which revealed that teenagers and young adults are less likely to smoke when faced with restaurant smoking bans, a new study by researchers from Yale School of medicine reveals that bans on smoking in bars and restaurants, apart from reducing tobacco-related illnesses, may also reduce alcohol abuse.

The study reveals that people who are identified as problem drinkers from states with smoking bans in public places have a higher rate of cutting down on alcohol than problem drinkers from states which do not observe such bans.  

"Smokers are three times more likely to abuse alcohol or meet criteria for dependence," said Sherry McKee, associate professor of psychiatry and senior author of the study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, according to Medical Xpress. "We wanted to see if separating smoking and drinking changed drinking behavior. It does."

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and compared remission rates of individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) in states that had smoking bans during the study period, and compared it with states without such bans, the report said.

The findings revealed that bans on smoking in public places had an effect on AUD among drinkers who drank in public places, like a bar, at least once per month.

It was found that with the bans, the rate of remission among the problem drinkers increased to 61 percent. At present, there are only 29 states with such bans.

It was also found that states with bans oN public drinking had fewer new cases of AUD. While states with bans had seven percent less cases, states without public drinking bans had 11 percent new cases. These results were found to be most relevant for men and young people, as well as smokers.

The results show that smoking bans do benefit public health in terms of drinking as well, apart from the already seen results on reduction of tobacco-related illnesses, said Kelly Young-Wolff, the study's lead author.

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