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New study shows hospitality staff concerned about working in smoky venues

Sunday 26 October, 2003

Workers in venues like bars and pubs are exposed to passive smoking in their workplace more than other workers, according to a new study. The study, published in the latest issue of the Australian New Zealand Journal of Public Health, also found that hospitality workers are worried about being exposed to passive smoking at work.

The study, conducted by researchers from The Cancer Council Victoria and funded by VicHealth, details the results of interviews with over 1000 members of the Victorian branch of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. Half of the union members who participated worked in hospitality venues in Victoria.

Key findings of the new research include:

  • Over half (57%) of hospitality workers interviewed were exposed to passive smoke while at work, compared to only 8% of other workers
  • four out of five workers in bars and clubs are concerned about working in conditions where smoking was permitted
  • While non-smokers were most likely to be concerned about working in smoky venues, smokers were also concerned about being exposed to passive smoke - two thirds of staff who smoked said they were concerned about the potentially harmful effects of being exposed to passive smoking at work.

The study also found that around three quarters of hospitality workers don't smoke. However, being in smoky workplaces also bothered many of the smokers, with almost half of hospitality workers who smoked saying cigarette smoke bothered them.

Chief Executive of VicHealth, Dr Rob Moodie, said today the findings are significant, as this is the first research to look at opinions of staff in the hospitality industry about being exposed to passive smoking.

'This is the first time we've asked hospitality workers working in the frontline, what they think about their working conditions and clearly they’re concerned. Members of the public can get up and leave if they’re uncomfortable but these workers have to endure the smoky venues and risk their health, simply to go to work and earn a living', Dr Moodie said.

Quit Executive Director Todd Harper says the study’s findings confirm the need for smoking bans to be extended to all workplaces, including bars and pubs, as soon as possible

'This study clearly shows that workers in the hospitality industry are concerned about working in smoky environments, whether they’re smokers or not.'

'Their concern is entirely understandable, when it’s well known that passive smoking causes a range of deadly and debilitating diseases, including, heart disease, lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer and asthma attacks.'

Research conducted in 2002 by the Cancer Council’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer found support for smoking bans is at an all time high in Victoria, with

  • around two thirds (68%) of Victorians in favour of a ban on smoking in bars;
  • two thirds of Victorians (66%) support a ban on smoking in nightclubs; and
  • more than three quarters (78%) of Victorians support a ban on smoking in gambling venues

'The Cancer Council’s research clearly indicates that the Victorian community have shown their strong support for smoke bans to go further,' Dr Moodie said

'In the last three years, community support for smoking bans in bars, nightclubs and gambling venues has steadily increased in Victoria.'

'This groundswell of public support for smokefree environments, coupled with the overwhelming research about the serious health effects of passive smoking, provide a strong foundation for action,' Dr Moodie said.

Mr Harper said it’s important that the Victorian Government consider building on the success of Victoria’s smokefree legislation by implementing complete smokefree environments in pubs and clubs.

'We have seen some real gains in smokefree legislation in the last three years, and Victorians have voiced their strong support for taking current smoking bans even further.'

'Workers in bars and pubs have just as much right to a safe, smokefree workplaces as anyone else.'

ends

The study Exposure of secondhand smoke at work: a survey of the members of the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union was published in the October issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

Further information:
Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager

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