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Smoking’s Shrinking Geographies



Smoking bans are the most geographical aspect of contemporary tobacco control policy, and are eliminating smoke from many of the spaces of everyday life, particularly in high-income countries. In this paper, we emphasize that the adoption of bans both reflects, and reinforces, changing social norms around smoking and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Specifically, as understandings of the health consequences of environmental tobacco smoke have developed, social acceptance of smoking has declined. Bans cement this norm shift by making the behaviour more difficult to perform, relocating smokers to marginal places, and contributing to stigmatization. We draw upon a diverse, multi-disciplinary scholarship examining contemporary trends in the spatial regulation of smoking. While its focus is on the formal, large-scale bans implemented by public authorities, increasing attention is now being paid to the myriad small-scale, voluntary decisions of private actors to limit smoking. As smoking is permitted in ever fewer places, the behaviour is denormalized and its social status markedly eroded.