Smokefree hospitality venues in Victoria: public approval, patronage and quitting behaviour, 2004-07

McCarthy M, Durkin S, Brennan E, Germain D.

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 32

The data presented in this report are gathered through telephone surveys of randomly sampled Victorian adults conducted in November and December of 2004 (N=2998), 2005 (N=2999), 2006 (N=2996) and 2007 (N=3001).

In 2007 the overwhelming majority of Victorian adults and a considerable proportion of Victorian smokers expressed approval for smokefree hospitality venues in Victoria. Approximately 90% of Victorian adults approved of smokefree bars (including 71% of smokers), 90% of adults approved of smoking bans in nightclubs (including 74% of smokers), and 93% of adults approved of smoking bans in gambling venues (including 80% of smokers).

These levels of public approval are a significant increase on approval levels in 2006 prior to implementation of the smoking bans. Reported frequency of patronage to hospitality venues since the bans were enforced suggests that they have either made no difference to patronage, or they have increased the frequency of patronage to these venues.

Of those who visited bars at least once a month, 14% reported that they now visit bars more often than before the smoking bans, while 5% said they now visit less often, which would suggest an overall increase in patronage of approximately 9%. Correspondingly, those who visited nightclubs at least once a month reported an overall increase in patronage of 4%, and those who visited gambling venues at least once a month reported no change (increase by 0.5%) in patronage.

There were also a substantial number (40%) recent quitters who stated that the introduction of the smoking bans had assisted their quit attempt, while 33% of smokers reported a decrease in consumption since the ban was implemented.

Overall these findings indicate that the smoking bans in Victoria have proved highly acceptable to the vast majority of Victorian adults, including smokers, with increased public support since their enforcement. The positive consequences of the smoking bans include not only a reduction in exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) for hospitality workers, but also the potential to reduce smoking prevalence and consumption, with no evidence of a negative effect on patronage to hospitality venues.