Smoking bans in Victorian workplaces: 2003 update

Germain D, Findley S

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 11

Recent changes in Victorian legislation have aimed to increase the proportion of indoor workers who experience smokefree working environments.

Since 1988 the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer has been monitoring the level of smoking restrictions in Victorian workplaces. Trends over time indicate there was a period of rapid increase in total smoking bans between 1988 and the early 1990s, followed by relatively little change up to 2001.

In 2003, 68% of indoor workers reported total smoking bans at their workplace. A further 28% had partial bans where they worked, while 5% reported no smoking restrictions at work. While the proportion of indoor workers with total smoking bans has plateaued over the previous five years, the proportion with no smoking restrictions has continued to decline since 1988. In 2003, indoor workers (68%) were more likely than outdoor workers (25%) to be protected by total smoking bans. Regular smokers were also significantly less likely to work in workplaces with total smoking bans (58%) than were those who did not regularly smoke (70%).

Smoking restrictions varied across different indoor workplace types. School/classroom, open plan office and shop/supermarket workers reported the highest proportion of workplaces with total smoking bans in 2003 (89%, 78% and 73%, respectively). Hotel, club, gaming venue and bar workers experienced the lowest levels of total smoking bans in 2003 (13%). By comparison, 68% of restaurant workers reported total smoking bans, attributable to legislation introduced in 2001, requiring total smoking bans within indoor restaurants.

On 12 October 2004, the Victorian State Government announced legislation introducing total smoking bans for the first time in all Victorian bars, pubs, nightclubs, hotels and gaming venues, to be implemented by July 2007. The introduction of such bans will finally create a smokefree environment for hospitality workers. It is expected that exposure to ETS for those who work in the hospitality industry will dramatically decline after the implementation of such bans, to be on par with other indoor workplaces.