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New study finds smokefree venues help  social’ smokers quit

Monday 18 November, 2002

A new Victorian study has found that bans on smoking in pubs, nightclubs and gaming venues would help young  social smokers’ cut down on the amount they smoke and even quit for good.

The landmark study, released last week in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal’s prestigious international publication Tobacco Control was conducted by researchers from The Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer.

The study surveyed Victorian smokers who regularly go to venues like pubs and nightclubs, and found that:

  • over two thirds of adult smokers go to social venues at least monthly;
  • 7 out of 10  social smokers’ smoke more or  binge smoke’ when they’re out;
  • one quarter of smokers who go to social venues regularly would be more likely to quit if smoking bans were introduced in these venues;
  • around two thirds of smokers who regularly patronise social venues would either approve or not mind if smoking were banned in these venues;

Study co-author Dr Melanie Wakefield says the research is the first to look at the benefits of smoking bans in social venues for smokers.

'This is the first study to examine the impact that smokefree venues can have on helping smokers to quit.'

'This study shows that smoking bans in pubs and clubs and other social venues are likely to reduce smoking rates amongst regular patrons – who are more likely to be younger adults.'

'We found that young smokers under 30 are six times more likely to  binge’ smoke when they’re in these places.'

'Binge smoking in venues like pubs and clubs can lead to  social smokers’ – people who only smoke when they’re socialising - becoming regular, addicted smokers.'

'We already know that smoking restrictions at work and self-imposed restrictions in the home result in more smokers trying to quit. This study shows that smokefree pubs, clubs and nightclubs would also encourage younger adults who smoke to think about quitting.'

'Clearly,  social smokers’ smoke more when they’re out at these types of venues, and so smoking bans would lead to smokers smoking fewer cigarettes, and more smokers trying to quit altogether.'

Dr Wakefield said smoking bans in bars and nightclubs would also help those smokers who are already trying to quit.

'Social situations - especially those that involve alcohol - are a common relapse trigger for smokers who are trying to quit.'

'Adding bars and pubs to the growing list of smokefree public places would particularly help those trying to quit, by reducing the difficulties that they face when they go out to these venues.'

'It’s clear now why tobacco companies have been concentrating their marketing efforts on sponsoring dance parties in nightclubs and VIP rooms in bars,' said Dr Wakefield.

'These venues are  nicotine classrooms’ that increase the amount social smokers smoke, and can also contribute to a  social smoker’ progressing to more regular smoking.'

'This research builds upon the large amount of existing data that shows smokefree venues are good for business and good for health.'

'This research shows that smokefree environments have a two-fold public health benefit – protecting patrons from environmental tobacco smoke, and creating environments that help smokers quit.'

'Policy makers need to consider the implications of this research in framing smokefree legislation.'

-ends-

For more information please contact
Zoe Furman, ph 0408 176 934

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