Smoking bans in Victorian workplaces: 2005 update

Germain D

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 24

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 2003.

In 2005, 73% of indoor workers reported total smoking bans at their workplace, a significant increase since 2003 (68%) and an overall significant increase since 1990 (34%).  A further 23% of respondents reported partial bans where they worked, while 4% reported no smoking restrictions at work. 

In 2005, indoor workers were more likely than outdoor workers to be protected by total smoking bans (73% compared with 15%, respectively).  Regular smokers were also significantly less likely to work in workplaces with total smoking bans (60%), than were those who did not regularly smoke (76%).

Smoking restrictions varied across different indoor workplace types.  School/classroom, open plan office and own/home office workers reported the highest proportion of workplaces with total smoking bans in 2005 (92%, 82% and 79%, respectively).  Hotel, club, gaming venue & bar workers experienced the lowest levels of total smoking bans in 2005 (18%), while under half (47%) of restaurant workers also reported total smoking bans in their workplace. 

Although legislation introduced in Victoria over the previous 5 years has increased smoking restrictions in many workplaces, a high proportion of workers are still being exposed to second hand smoke.  However, all enclosed workplaces in Victoria will be required to be smokefree by March 2006 (with exception of licensed venues - to be smokefree by July 1, 2007), a move which is expected to create an even safer working environment for Victorians.