A majority of Americans now favor a public smoking ban, reflecting a significant increase in support for anti-smoking measures over the last decade.

A Gallup poll found that 59 percent of respondents supported a ban on lighting up in public places, up from 39 percent when Gallup first asked that question in 2001. Only 19 percent wanted to make smoking illegal across the country.

The percentage of adults who said they had smoked in the past week stayed steady at about a quarter of the population, where it has hovered since the end of the 1980's after peaking at 45% in 1954. The number of smokers who said they smoked a pack or more a day also dropped.

The findings seem to parallel a cultural and legal shift away from smoking. New York City recently voted by a wide margin to ban smoking in public places such as parks and beaches, a move lauded by proponents for supporting both public health and sanitation.

[Nonsmokers' health and their lives should not be negatively impacted because other people have decided to smoke, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said at a news conference after the measure passed.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that the amount of tobbaco use in movies viewed by children is in steady decline, with tobacco use in the top-grossing movies rated G, PG and PG-13 down 72 percent between 2005 and 2010. Three of the six studios in the Motion Picture Association of America adopted guidelines mandating decreased depiction of tobbaco products in that period.