Estimating the equity impacts of the smoking ban in England on cotinine levels: A regression discontinuity design

Matthew Robson, Joseph Lord, Tim Doran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Objective To estimate the equity impacts of the 2007 smoking ban in England, for both smokers and non-smokers. Design Doubly robust regression discontinuity analysis of salivary cotinine levels. Conditional average treatment effects were used to estimate differential impacts of the ban by socioeconomic deprivation (based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation). Distributional impacts were further assessed using conditional quantile treatment effects and inequality treatment effects. Setting In 2007, England introduced a ban on smoking in public places. This had little impact on tobacco consumption by smokers but was associated with decreases in environmental tobacco smoke exposure for non-smokers. However, the impact of the ban on socioeconomic inequalities in exposure is unclear. Participants 766 smokers and 2952 non-smokers responding to the Health Survey for England in 2007. Outcome measure Levels of salivary cotinine. Results Before the ban, socioeconomic deprivation was associated with higher cotinine levels for non-smokers but not for smokers. The ban caused a significant reduction in average cotinine levels for non-smokers (p=0.043) but had no effect for smokers (p=0.817). Reductions for non-smokers were greater for more deprived groups with higher levels of exposure, and there was a significant reduction in socioeconomic-related inequality in cotinine. Across the whole population (both smokers and non-smokers), there was no significant increase in the concentration of cotinine levels among the socioeconomically deprived. Conclusion The 2007 ban on smoking in public places had little impact on smokers, but was, as intended, associated with reductions in both (1) average levels of environmental tobacco smoke exposure and (2) deprivation-related inequality in exposure among non-smokers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere049547
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust (205427/Z/16/Z). All errors remain our own.

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