Banning smoking hardly inspires people to reduce or quit it altogether, says a study that found no significant change in home habits in the aftermath of a ban in Quebec.
Greater inspiration to kick the habit likely comes from having friends or family who set an example by giving up cigarettes themselves, the researchers noted.
"What distinguishes people who restrict smoking at home is the presence of a non-smoker," said Sylvia Kairouz, associate professor at the Concordia University in Canada.
"The social network seems to be more of a factor than the law," Kairouz noted.
With advance knowledge of a smoking ban in Quebec, Canada that took effect in May 2006, researchers were able to collect data from a representative cross-section of the population a month ahead of time.
They then followed up a year and a half later.
Analysing trends over the past decade, the researchers found that a much broader range of factors have reduced the number of nicotine addicts beyond simply forcing smokers to huddle outdoors more often.
"There needs to be an integrated approach of ecological measures along with taxation, prevention and information," Kairouz said.
"But one of the most important components is to have public health services available for people who are trying to quit," Kairouz noted.
The study was published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.