Titled, “Neighbourhood greenspace and smoking prevalence: Results from a nationally representative survey in England,” the study looked into the smoking-related behaviour of over 8,000 adults. “This study is the first to investigate the association between neighbourhood greenspace and smoking behaviours in England,” said lead study author Leanne Martin, from the University of Plymouth.
Martin said that this study pointed out the connection between health and our natural environment. “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,” added Martin.
Greenery had the same positive effect on people struggling with other unhealthy cravings
More specifically, the data compiled by the researchers indicated that people living in greener neighbourhoods were 20% less likely to be current smokers than those who did not. Moreover, the former were 12% more successful at quitting smoking.
The importance of including accessibility to green areas in public health strategies
To this effect, concluded the researchers, authorities should factor in accessibility to green areas as part of public health strategies tackling smoking. “Despite a decline in prevalence within the general population over the last decade, smoking remains a devastating and global public health issue,” said study co-author Dr Mathew White, senior scientist at the University of Vienna and honorary associate professor at the University of Exeter.
“Governments across the world spend billions each year trying to tackle it, both in an attempt to improve public health and reduce the strain on health services. This study emphasises the need to preserve existing green spaces and expand the development of new ones.”