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California banned smoking in most indoor workplaces in 1995, and the ban was extended to bars and gaming rooms in January 1998. This letter summarises new data from the 2002 California Tobacco Survey (CTS) about California adults’ attitudes regarding where smoking should not be allowed in venues not already smoke-free by law.
As with previous administrations of the CTS, this large, population based, random-digit-dialled survey used a screener interview with a household adult to enumerate residents with respect to demographics and smoking status. Adults were randomly selected for an extended 25 minute interview based on age and smoking status. The response rate among those selected for interview was 63%. To compute population estimates (and 95% confidence intervals), base weights were determined from the selection probability and further adjusted to census totals.1
The 20 525 adult respondents to the 2002 CTS were asked to state whether smoking should be allowed or not allowed in: (1) outdoor work places such as loading docks, constructions sites; (2) outdoor public places such as parks, beaches, golf courses, zoos, or sports stadiums; (3) children’s play yards or sports fields; (4) outdoor restaurant dining patios; (5) outdoor bar/club patron patios; (6) just outside entrances to buildings; (7) common areas of apartments or condo complexes, such as hallways, recreation rooms, laundry rooms, pool areas, etc; (8) common areas of hotels or motels, such as hallways, exercise rooms, pool areas, etc; (9) hotel rooms; (10) Native American casinos; and (11) on-campus student housing at public colleges or universities.
Figure 1 summarises the population percentages supporting a ban for each venue. Those with the highest support to be smoke-free were kid’s play areas/sports fields (90.5%), common areas of hotels/motels (88.8%), common areas of apartments/condos (87.1%), and on-campus student housing at public colleges and universities (79.2%). Venues garnering the least support for smoke-free status were outdoor workplaces (42.7%) and outdoor areas of bars/clubs (39.7%). Overall support for smoke-free status for all other venues queried exceeded 50%. Not surprisingly, support for smoke-free venues differed somewhat by smoking status. However, support for the top three venues was high among current smokers (> 75%).
An important theme of the California Tobacco Control Program is protecting non-smokers from secondhand smoke,2 which is linked to poor health outcomes in both adults and children.3,4 Extensive media and local level efforts have educated the public about the dangers of secondhand smoke to non-smokers, including children. California’s progress in protecting the population from secondhand smoke has been documented in detail previously.1,5,6
The high levels of support for the three top venues suggest that further legislative action might be appropriate. Other states should consider monitoring population attitudes about where smoking should not be allowed over a broad range of settings. Such attitudes are likely to be much more supportive of smoking restrictions than legislators may think. Monitoring these attitudes also provides an indication of population social norms regarding smoking in general. Results can be used both to assess tobacco control progress and to assess population readiness for legislative action.
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