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Support for Banning Public Smoking Holding Steady in U.S.

Support for Banning Public Smoking Holding Steady in U.S.

Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • 57% support banning smoking in all public places
  • 19% would make smoking entirely illegal

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Slightly fewer than six in 10 Americans (57%) say smoking in all public places should be illegal, virtually unchanged since 2011. Most of the rest, 41%, think it should not be illegal in public.

Trend: Should smoking in all public places be made totally illegal, or not?

The latest results are based on Gallup's annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 5-9.

Support for banning all smoking is fairly widespread throughout U.S. society, although less than half of adults younger than 55 agree with it. Attitudes on this are not partisan, with equal proportions of Republicans (57%) and Democrats (59%) saying smoking in public should be illegal.

Women and Older Americans Most Likely to Be in Favor of Making All Public Smoking Illegal
Yes, should be made illegal No, should not be made illegal
% %
Male 51 48
Female 63 35
18 to 34 48 51
35 to 54 49 48
55 and older 70 28
College graduate 59 39
Not college graduate 57 42
Party ID
Republican/Lean Republican 57 43
Democrat/Lean Democratic 59 39
Tobacco use
Smokers 31 68
Nonsmokers 63 35
Gallup, July 5-9, 2017

Smokers and nonsmokers are clearly divided on this issue, with only 31% of smokers favoring public bans vs. 63% of nonsmokers. Smokers' opposition likely goes a long way toward explaining a separate finding in the poll -- that a majority of smokers feel discriminated against by society, at least occasionally.

Support for Total Ban Low, but Also Steady

Meanwhile, support for making smoking entirely illegal has also been fairly steady, but it is much lower. The 19% of Americans favoring this today is identical to the average since 2009, with the percentage in most of those years falling between 16% and 22%.

Trend: Should smoking in this country be made totally illegal, or not?

Bottom Line

The percentage of Americans who say they smoke has dwindled to 17% this year, down from 19% in each of the past two years and 22% in 2011. This is the lowest percentage of U.S. adults who say they smoke in Gallup's trend that dates to 1944.

Although more Americans eschew smoking, their attitudes about its legality have leveled off in recent years. Nearly six in 10 favor prohibiting all smoking in public, lending support to the array of local and state restrictions in place across the country, including in restaurants, bars, parks, workplaces and other locales. Still, the vast majority oppose making smoking illegal altogether, maintaining Americans' long-standing respect for the right of people to smoke.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 5-9, 2017, with a random sample of 1,021 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For the question asking if smoking should be made totally illegal, which is based on a sample of 478 national adults in Form A, the margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

For the question asking if smoking should be illegal in all public places, which is based on a sample of 543 national adults in Form B, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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