London: If you want to quit smoking, read on. Researchers have found that living near green spaces or neighbourhoods was linked to lower rates of smoking and higher chances of quitting.
The study, published in the journal ‘Social Science and Medicine’, demonstrated that access to neighbourhood green space is linked to lower rates of smoking.
“This study is the first to investigate the association between neighbourhood green space and smoking behaviours in England,” said study author Leanne Martin from the University of Plymouth in the UK.
“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,” Martin added.
For the findings, the research team 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, just under one fifth (19 per cent) described themselves as current smokers while almost half (45 per cent) said they had regularly smoked at some point during their lives.
However, even after taking into account other factors known to influence smoking, people living in areas with a high proportion of green space were 20 per cent less likely to be current smokers than those in less green areas.
In addition, among the people who had smoked at some point during their lives, those living in greener neighbourhoods were up to 12 per cent more likely to have successfully quit smoking.
The authors suggest that improving access to green space may constitute an overlooked public health strategy for reducing smoking prevalence, especially given that smoking uptake and cessation are affected by stress.
Previous studies by the same team have shown that being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy foods.
They have also demonstrated that individuals who visit natural spaces weekly, and feel psychologically connected to them, report better physical and mental wellbeing.
“If our findings are substantiated by further work, nature-based interventions could be prescribed to assist individuals attempting to give up smoking,” the study authors wrote.