More than 8 out of 10 Victorians support total smoking bans in bars and pubs, according to latest research released today by The Cancer Council Victoria.
There has also been a jump in the proportion of smokers who support the ban with almost two thirds now approving of smoking bans in hotels and licensed bars.
The findings come as Victorians embark on a 100 day countdown to the introduction of total smoking bans in bars and clubs on July 1, 2007.
The figures show that of around 3000 Victorian adults surveyed in 2006:
- 86% supported smoking bans in bars - up from 77% the year before
- Support was the strongest among those who were never smokers (94%) and former smokers (87%)
- 61% of smokers approved of banning smoking in bars and pubs
Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Mr Todd Harper, said the data showed Victorians were ready to go smokefree on July 1, 2007.
"There is no doubt that Victorians have embraced the concept of smokefree environments, and this is reflected by the fact that many bars and clubs have already beat the ban and nominated to go smokefree early."
In 2001, prior to the announcement of the legislation, only 33% of Victorian smokers said that they would approve of smokefree bars and pubs. In 2004, immediately following the announcement, 48% approved of smokefree bars and pubs, and this level of approval among smokers has now increased to 61%.
Acting Health Minister, Gavin Jennings, said the Victorian Government has introduced several new laws to address exposure to second hand tobacco smoke over the past five years.
"Smokefree pubs and clubs will protect more Victorians from the harms of tobacco smoke and ensure a healthier and safer workplace for those in the hospitality sector," Mr Jennings said.
"Tobacco remains the risk factor associated with the greatest burden of disease in Victoria, responsible for almost 4000 deaths in Victoria each year, and costs the Victorian community over $5 billion annually in health care and social costs.
"The Bracks Government has done significant work to address this burden, and will continue to invest in this important area."
CEO of VicHealth, Dr Rob Moodie, said he was pleased that with only 100 days to go, smokers seemed to have warmed to the idea of the bans.
"It was community support that pushed the idea of smokefree bars and clubs onto the agenda in Victoria, and that so many smokers support the bans is truly a mark of this widespread effort."
Dr Moodie said the smoking bans in pubs and clubs presented tremendous potential to help smokers quit or reduce their tobacco consumption.
"By making bars and clubs smokefree there is a huge opportunity to help people quit, or even prevent them from taking up smoking in the first place."
Victorians looking for a smokefree venue can log onto www.smokefree.org.au to find a list of venues that have already implemented a smokefree policy.
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