Public opinion about the Victorian Government's proposal to ban smoking in hospitality venues by 1 July 2007

Germain D

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 20

In recognition of the harmful effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (second-hand smoke), on October 12, 2004, the Victorian Government announced plans to introduce total smoking bans in licensed bars, gaming venues and nightclubs and all licensed premises by July 1, 2007.

Data from the 2004 Victorian population survey (conducted in November and December, 2004) indicate there is strong support for the implementation of total smoking bans in hospitality venues, with almost 8 out of 10 Victorian adults (79%) approving of the bans proposed by the Victorian Government. There was also moderate support among smokers, with almost half (48%) approving of the proposed bans.

Of those who supported banning smoking in hospitality venues, 69% thought the bans should be brought in sooner than the proposed date of July 1, 2007. Almost half (49%) of these respondents thought the bans should be introduced immediately, and a further 47% thought they should be implemented within 12 months (more than 18 months earlier than currently proposed).

Over one-quarter (26%) of regular bar goers (who attend bars at least once a month) said they would visit hotel bars and licensed bars more often if total smoking bans were introduced. A further 65% said the introduction of these bans would make no difference to the number of times they frequent bars. Similarly, over one-quarter (27%) of respondents who attend nightclubs at least once a month said they would go to nightclubs more often if total smoking bans were introduced in these venues, with a further 59% reporting the bans would make no difference to how often they visit nightclubs. Eight out of 10 regular gaming venue attendees reported that the introduction of total smoking bans in gaming venues would not change the frequency they visit these venues, with an additional 12% reporting they would go to gaming venues more often.

Overall, findings suggest there would be an overall increase in patronage of Victorian hospitality venues if total smoking bans were introduced: a 17% increase for bars, a 12% increase in patronage for nightclubs, and a 5% increase for gaming venues.

Contrary to arguments raised by Australian Hoteliers Association (AHA) that smokefree laws are too restrictive and would result in reduced patronage, findings indicate that patronage to bars, nightclubs and gaming venues are likely to increase with the introduction of total smoking bans in hospitality venues, and are strongly supported by the majority of the Victorian population.