Smoking bans in Victorian workplaces: Reduced disparities in exposure to secondhand smoke, 1998 to 2007

Daniella Germain
Molly McCarthy
Sarah Durkin 

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 35 


Over the past decade there has been substantial reductions in exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) within Victorian workplaces. In 2007, 95% of indoor workers reported smoking bans in their usual area of work, a significant increase from 91% in 1998. Respondents who worked indoors have been the primary beneficiaries of the workplace bans, with these workers more likely to report a total smoking ban at their usual area of work (95%) compared with outdoor workers (50%) and those who work primarily in a vehicle (81%).

However, there was a trend toward a significant increase in the proportion of both outdoor workers and vehicle workers reporting total smoking restrictions at their usual area of work between 1998 and 2007. In 2007, it was evident that hospitality workers (those working in hotels, restaurants and clubs) had experienced substantial gains in protection against exposure to SHS in the workplace, with a significant increase in the proportion reporting total bans in their usual workplace, from 61% in 1998 to 94% in 2007. In the past decade there have also been significant increases in total smoking restrictions in the usual area of work for those working in warehouses/workshops, shops/supermarkets, and own office/home office.

Analysis of relative socio-economic disadvantage of respondents revealed significant increases in smoking bans in the usual area of work for all workers, regardless of their level of relative socio-economic disadvantage, with those in the most disadvantaged groups showing a slightly greater rate of change over the past 10 years.