The authors examined the association between smoke-free laws and smoking/cessation behaviors and secondhand smoke exposure among current and former smokers in rural, distressed counties. A quasi-experimental, two-group design compared outcomes between participants from a county with a longstanding smoke-free law (n = 252) and those living in four demographically similar counties without smoke-free laws (n = 250). Participants were recruited using random digit dialing. Controlling for demographic factors, those in the treatment group reported greater nicotine dependence, were more likely to have smoke-free workplaces, and less likely to have smoke-free homes. There were no differences in smoking status, past-year quit attempts, intent to quit in 5 years, cigarettes per day, or time since last cigarette. Smokers in the treatment group were just as likely to attempt to quit, despite greater nicotine dependence. Findings showed that making nonsmoking the social norm through policy change may be more difficult in rural, distressed areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-308
Number of pages7
JournalPolicy, Politics, and Nursing Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • health disparities
  • outcomes measurement
  • rural health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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