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Effect of smoke-free policies on the behaviour of social smokers


OBJECTIVE To test the hypothesis that proposed amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act making all enclosed workplaces in Western Australia smoke free would result in a decrease in cigarette consumption by patrons at nightclubs, pubs, and restaurants without adversely affecting attendance.

DESIGN Cross sectional structured interview survey.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING Patrons of several inner city pubs and nightclubs in Perth were interviewed while queuing for admission to these venues.

OUTCOME MEASURES Current social habits, smoking habits, and how these might be affected by the proposed regulations. Persons who did not smoke daily were classified as “social smokers.”

RESULTS Half (50%) of the 374 patrons interviewed were male, 51% currently did not smoke at all, 34.3% smoked every day, and the remaining 15.7% smoked, but not every day. A clear majority (62.5%) of all 374 respondents anticipated no change to the frequency of their patronage of hospitality venues if smoke-free policies became mandatory. One in five (19.3%) indicated that they would go out more often, and 18.2% said they would go out less often. Half (52%) of daily smokers anticipated no change to their cigarette consumption, while 44.5% of daily smokers anticipated a reduction in consumption. A majority of social smokers (54%) predicted a reduction in their cigarette consumption, with 42% of these anticipating quitting.

CONCLUSIONS One in nine (11.5%) of smokers say that adoption of smoke-free policies would prompt them to quit smoking entirely without a significant decrease in attendance at pubs and nightclubs. There can be few other initiatives as simple, cheap, and popular that would achieve so much for public health.

  • smoke-free policies
  • smoking behaviour

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