The visibility of smokers in city streets has for the first time anywhere been mapped, according to a Eurek Alert story quoting the findings of a new study by the University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand.
The study was published in the international journal BMC Public Health and was funded by the Cancer Society of New Zealand (Wellington branch).
The research found that up to 116 smokers outside bars and cafés could be seen from any one location in the outdoor public areas of downtown Wellington.
Of the 2,600 people observed in the outdoor areas of bars and cafés, 16 percent were said to be smoking, with a higher proportion than this occurring in the evenings.
There was no mention of whether it was known whether all of the people said to be smoking were consuming tobacco.
Data from observations across the downtown area were mapped by the researchers, producing a record of the street areas where the most smokers could be seen.
They used mapping methods previously used for landscape ecology and archeology.
Lead researcher Dr. Amber Pearson said, “The methods developed through this research will help policymakers demonstrate the visibility of smoking in different areas, and provide scientific evidence for local authorities to advance smoke-free outdoor policies.”
Another researcher, associate professor George Thomson, said the results showed the need for policies to reduce the normality of smoking:
“Smoke-free outdoor areas help smokers to quit, help those who have quit to stick with it, and reduce the normalization of smoking for children and youth,” he said. “They also reduce litter, water pollution and cleaning costs for local authorities and ratepayers.”