Public opinion about smokefree policies in bars, nightclubs and gambling venues, 2000–2003

Durkin S, Letcher T, Lipscomb J.

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 6, March 2004.

Public opinion related to the introduction of smoking bans in hospitality venues was examined using data from population surveys conducted among Victorian adults in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. The data indicate strong public support for bans on smoking in bars, nightclubs and gambling venues.

Over three-quarters of the sample agreed with the most recent legislative amendments restricting smoking in licensed and gambling venues. Approximately seven out of ten respondents in the sample approved of the introduction of smoking bans in bars and nightclubs in 2003, while support for bans in gambling venues was higher, at around 80%.

There has been a significant overall linear increase in public approval for the introduction of bans in bars, nightclubs and gaming venues between 2000 and 2003 among both smokers and non-smokers. Less than half of smokers reported disapproval of smoking bans in bars, only a third reported disapproval of bans in nightclubs, and less than a quarter disapproved of bans in gaming venues in 2003.

This has followed a steady decline in disapproval of bans in hospitality venues from 2000 to 2003. While smokers were less likely to approve of bans compared with non-smokers, the level of approval among smokers has also increased over time. The increases in community support for smoking bans in public places have occurred in a climate of legislative reform in tobacco control, including increasing smoking bans in public places, further restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion, and tougher penalties for sales to minors. While current Victorian legislation restricts smoking in hospitality venues, only total smoking bans will fully protect patrons and staff from the hazards of exposure to tobacco smoke.