New research is the first of its kind to draw a direct link between people living near green spaces and those individuals having lower smoking rates.
A joint study by University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, and University of Vienna researchers used data gathered through the annual Health Survey for England. They examined the responses of more than 8,000 adults to questions about their health, where they lived, and various other lifestyle factors.
Of the survey’s respondents, 19% described themselves as current smokers while 45% said they had regularly smoked at some point during their lives. However, even after to taking into account other factors known to influence smoking, people living in areas with a high proportion of green spaces such as parks, public gardens, landscaped playgrounds, or fields were 20% less likely to be current smokers than those in less green areas.
In addition, among people who had smoked at some point during their lives, those living in greener neighborhoods were up to 12% more likely to have successfully quit smoking.
The authors suggest that improving access to neighborhood green spaces may constitute an overlooked public health strategy for reducing smoking prevalence, especially given that smoking uptake and cessation are affected by stress.
“This study is the first to investigate the association between neighborhood green space and smoking behaviors in England,” said lead author Leanne Martin of the University of Plymouth, whose previous studies with the same research team have found being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes, and unhealthy foods. “Its findings support the need to protect and invest in natural resources—in both urban and more rural communities—in order to maximize 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.”
GROWING RESEARCH ON GREEN SPACES’ BENEFITS
This latest study adds to increasing academic research outlining green spaces’ many benefits to those in urban and suburban areas that, according to the World Health Organization, include:
- Improved air and water quality
- Buffering of noise pollution
- Reduction of environmental health risks
- Stress alleviation
- Increased physical activity
- Improved social interaction
- Community cohesiveness
- Improved levels of mental health, physical fitness, and cognitive and immune function
- Lower general mortality rates
Landscape architects licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Landscape Architecture Technical Committee are trained, educated, and dedicated to implementing a wide variety of green spaces into our communities and our lives. Find out more about their services at www.latc.ca.gov and, to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Related Reading: Landscape Architects: Building Nature Into Our Lives; ‘Awe Walks’ Increase Emotional Well-Being