Smokefree dining is now in effect in New South Wales, the ACT, Western Australia, and South Australia. Victoria's smokefree dining legislation came into effect on 1 July 2001. In Victoria, the smokefree dining laws apply to indoor restaurants and the indoor dining areas of hotels and clubs. Smokefree dining was implemented in Tasmania from 5 September 2001, and in Queensland from 31 May 2002. Legislation restricting smoking in hospitality venues varies between states and territories regarding where smoking is permitted.
In Australia, smokefree dining was first introduced in the ACT, where restaurants went smokefree in 1995 and licensed premises in 1998.
Non smokers are a much larger group than smokers are – more than three quarters of the Australian population are non-smokers.
Economic impact of smokefree dining
A large number of studies have examined the effect of smoking bans on the hospitality industry. Published research is available for Canada and the United States, particularly New York and California, where regulations have been in force for a number of years. 18 peer reviewed economic studies have concluded that smoking bans have either no significant impact on revenue or a positive effect. (see below for references)
An Australian study released in May 2001 to evaluate the implementation of the ban on smoking in News South Wales restaurants concluded smokefree restaurants present few on-going difficulties to staff; attract much more favourable than unfavourable comments from patrons; and do not adversely affect trade. The study found not one instance of smoking was observed in 78 Sydney restaurants involving 156 hours of observation of 2646 diners. 71% of Sydney restaurants have experienced favourable comments from patrons about the smokefree law. 78% of restaurant staff interviewed either strongly supported or supported the law. 76% of restaurants report normal trade and 14% report more trade, with only 9% reporting less business.
Going smokefree can mean savings for the hospitality industry, with possible savings in the areas of air conditioning costs and refurbishment costs. Research has found that the respiratory health of bar staff improves soon after venues go smokefree, which may result in reduced absenteeism. Venues also lower the likelihood of passive smoking litigation by staff and patrons, and of cigarette-related fires.
In 1997, only 3% of restaurant patrons in Melbourne supported no restrictions on smoking. Two thirds of patrons always request smokefree dining and over 75% prefer to eat in a smokefree area. (Quit Evaluation Studies No 9, Centre for Behavioural Research into Cancer, 1998)
Many restaurants seem to be unaware of the public support for smokefree dining. A study has shown restaurant managers greatly underestimate the level of support for smokefree dining, with more than half of restaurant managers believing that 25% of their customers want smoking to be allowed anywhere – the actual figure of diners who supported smoking to be allowed anywhere was only 3%. However, 90% of owner/managers surveyed said they were concerned about legal action as a result of passive smoking in the hospitality industry. (Quit Evaluation Studies No 9, Centre for Behavioural Research into Cancer, 1998)
96% of Victorian hospitality workers support smoking restrictions where they work. (Quit Evaluation Studies No 9, Centre for Behavioural Research into Cancer, 1998)
Health benefits for diners
Smokefree dining legislation is an important public health measure to protect the health of diners and staff. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a proven cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and is an important risk factor for heart disease. Children are especially vulnerable to ETS. ETS causes respiratory illness and infection and asthma in children, and increases the severity and frequency of asthma attacks for children who already have asthma.
Many adults who are susceptible to tobacco smoke, such as pregnant women, asthmatics and those with heart and lung disease as well as families with young children, avoid situations where they may be exposed to tobacco smoke. Smokefree dining will mean that these people will not be discriminated against and can dine out without the fear of adverse health effects as a result of exposure to ETS.
Health benefits for staff
Smoking is not allowed in most workplaces; the hospitality industry is one of the main workplaces where smoking is still allowed. Consequently, hospitality staff are likely to experience considerable exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in their workplace.
A US study has found that environmental tobacco smoke is a significant occupational health hazard for bar workers, who face a 50% increased risk of contracting lung cancer which is in part attributable to exposure to tobacco smoke in the workplace. The study found levels of tobacco smoke in restaurants were 1.5 times higher than the levels of smoke in a home with one smoker. (Siegel, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 270, No 4, July 1993)
In Quebec, a study of non-smoking restaurant workers found the workers faced a 1% lifetime risk of dying from lung cancer as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, and their risk of dying from heart disease is a staggering 10%. These risks were over and above the risk for the general population. Testing of these workers showed the levels of cotinine, which is what the body converts nicotine to, was nearly 5 times higher than the concentration for a non-smoking population not exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. (Repace and Jacques, Quebec Monteregie Regional Health Board, 1998)
A Californian study found that hospitality workers experienced a rapid improvement in respiratory health after smoking bans were introduced there. (Eisner, Smith and Blanc, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 280, no 22, Dec 1998)
There have been at least 28 cases in Australia where compensation has been awarded to people affected by passive smoking. The two most recent involving the hospitality industry are-
Bowles v Canton Pty Ltd (2000)
A woman sued a Melbourne restaurant after she suffered an asthma attack caused by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke while dining in the non-smoking area of the restaurant. She sued in common law negligence (breach of duty of care), under occupiers liability legislation, and for breach of contract. She was awarded over $7,600 by the Melbourne Magistrate's Court.
Sharp v Port Kembla RSL and Port Kembla Hotel (2001)
A former barmaid sued the RSL and Hotel after contracting neck and throat cancer caused by years of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke during the course of her employment. She sued in common law negligence (breach of duty of care) and was awarded $466,000 by a New South Wales Supreme Court jury.
Where to from here?
Smokefree dining is an important step towards totally smokefree hospitality venues and other workplaces. Tobacco smoke cannot be adequately controlled indoors through ventilation, or segregating smoking and non-smoking areas. Totally smokefree environments are the only way to safeguard against the harm from tobacco smoke.
Research indicates there is strong public support in Victoria for smoking bans and restrictions in other areas of the hospitality industry. For example, a study released by Quit in May 2001 found that 87% of Victorians want smoking banned or restricted in gambling areas, and more than two thirds (67%) would support a government ban on smoking in gambling venues. Research has shown that only 5% of Victorians support unrestricted smoking in shopping centres; and 69% support bans or restrictions on smoking in bars. (Quit Evaluation Studies Volume 10; December 2000)
Smoking restrictions in other areas of the hospitality industry are an important move to protect the health of workers. Victorian hotel and restaurants workers were more likely to report there were no restrictions on smoking in their workplace than workers in other industries. (Quit Evaluation Studies Volume 10; December 2000)
For more information about smokefree dining in Victoria log on to www.health.vic.gov.au/tobaccoreforms or call Information Victoria on 1300 366 356.
References - Economic Impact of smokefree dining
- Chapman, S. Has the ban on smoking in News South Wales restaurants worked? A comparative observational study of Sydney and Melbourne restaurants.
- Glantz SA, Charlesworth A. Tourism and hotel revenues before and after passage of smoke-free restaurant ordinances. JAMA 281: 1911-1918, 1999.
- Hyland A, Cummings KM, Nauenberg E. Analysis of taxable sales receipts: Was New York City's Smoke-Free Air Act bad for restaurant businesses? Journal of Public Health Management Practices 5(1): 14-21, 1999.
- Bartosch WJ, Pope GC. The economic effect of smoke-free restaurant policies on restaurant business in Massachusetts; Journal of Public Health Management Practices 5(1): 53-62, 1999.
- Sciacca JP, Ratliff MI, Prohibiting smoking in restaurants: Effects on restaurant sales. American Journal of Health Promotion 12(3); 176-184, 1998.
- Glantz SA; Smith LRA. The effect of ordinances requiring smoke-free restaurants and bars on revenues: A follow-up. American Journal of Public Health 87(10); 1687-1693, 1997.
- Glantz SA; Smith LRA. The effect of ordinances requiring smoke-free restaurants on restaurant sales. American Journal of Public Health 87(4); 1081-1085, 1994.
- Sciacca J, Eckrem M. Effects of a city ordinance regulating smoking in restaurants and retail stores. Journal of Community Health 18(3); 175-182: 1993