Last week San Rafael (just outside of San Francisco) became the ninth city in California to outlaw smoking in multi-unit homes regardless if the occupants own or rent.
While some are calling this ban tyrannical, others applaud the effort as a way to cut down on lung cancer and other smoking related diseases.
The ban is the latest regulation putting a squeeze on existing smokers and detracting others from picking up the habit. With fewer smokers (and places to smoke) fewer cigarettes will be sold — a trend that is slowly snuffing out the tobacco manufacturing industry.
Output of US tobacco products is forecast to decline by 2 percent this year and will see little to no growth for at least the next two years, according to forecast information from First Research. US production of tobacco products fell more than 40 percent in the past decade, and industry employment fell 50 percent. The national smoking rate is about half the rate of the 1960s. Changing attitudes and increased regulation is preventing tobacco companies’ abilities to attract new smokers.
Smoking bans have been a big challenge to the industry. And California has become somewhat of a trendsetter when it comes to smoking bans. What happens there could be a signal for what is to come around the US. Cities in California were among the first to prohibit smoking inside restaurants, bars, and other building. Similar bans have been widely adopted by cities around the country.
Internationally, smoking bans are gaining traction in emerging markets. Russia (where more than 40% of the population smokes) is considering putting limits of lighting up in public.
Widespread smoking bans have forced the tobacco industry to look to other smokeless products in order to boost sales. Also, electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes that emit vapor, not smoke, are usually not included in smoking bans.
Regulation is often a major risk factor for every industry and tobacco has experienced some major hurdles and roadblocks over the years. Health advocates are pushing for a day when smoking is a distant bad memory. But do smoking bans really work? Will hooked smokers continue to find places to light up no matter what the law says?