Residing in neighborhoods with more green spaces associated with reduced rates of cigarette smoking

Living in neighborhoods with more green spaces is associated with lower rates of cigarette smoking and may increase the chances of quitting the habit, a new study by the University of Plymouth found.

The study, released in Social Science & Medicine, utilized data taken from the Health Survey for England (HSE) which involved over 8,000 adult participants. Questionnaires were given to the participants to assess their state of health and several lifestyle factors.

Among the participants, 19 percent were current smokers, while close to half used to frequently consume cigarettes in the past.

Based on their findings, researchers noticed that the participants who lived in areas with more greenspaces were at a lower likelihood of smoking frequently, excessive alcohol consumption, and even eating unhealthy, compared to their counterparts.

Living near greenspace also increased the likelihood of successfully quitting smoking habits, researchers also determined.

“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,” the co-authors stated in a press release.

Moreover, researchers found no changes to its findings even when taking into account socioeconomic status or neighborhood deprivation.

“While there is now considerable evidence that natural spaces are associated with stress reduction and better well-being, this is the first study to my knowledge to show that more greenspace is also linked to a reduction in unhealthy behaviours. This is intriguing and suggests that the benefits of natural green and blue spaces may reach even further than initially thought,” Sabine Pahl, co-author of the study, concluded in the release.

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