Public opinion about smoke-free policies in bars, nightclubs and gambling venues, 2000-2002

Letcher T, Black C.

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 2, July 2003

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 and 2002. The data indicate strong public support for bans on smoking in bars, nightclubs and gambling venues.

Almost three-quarters of the sample agreed with the most recent legislative amendments restricting smoking in licensed and gambling venues. Around two-thirds of the population approved of the introduction of smoking bans in bars and nightclubs in 2002, while support for bans in gambling venues was much higher, at almost 80%.

There was a significant increase in public approval for the introduction of bans in hospitality venues between 2000 and 2001, followed by a further slight increase in 2002. The level of approval for bans in all venue types (bars, nightclubs and gambling venues) increased significantly between 2000 and 2001 among both smokers and non-smokers; this significant increase was maintained in 2002.

While smokers were less likely to approve of bans compared with non-smokers, the level of approval among smokers 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.