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Good support for smoke-free legislation

Survey of bar managers show good support for smoke-free legislation

Preliminary results of a benchmarking study of bar managers' attitudes to smoke-free legislation in the lead-up to December 10 has found more than half supported bar workers' rights to a smoke-free work environment, well over half thought the economic impact would be short term at most and nearly half supported the legislation.

The Ministry of Health's chief advisor Public Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield says, "Information was gathered from a good cross-section of licensed premises. A quarter were rural bars, and three quarters said they had an outdoor smoking area. More than 40 percent of the managers were smokers."

Dr Bloomfield says "Bearing in mind around 25 percent of people over age 15 smoke, we would expect this group of bar managers to have lower levels of support than the general population. Even so, support is remarkably high."

The telephone survey of 541 bar managers from throughout the country was done in November, ahead of the implementation of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act on December the 10th.

The key preliminary findings, include:

46 percent of participants said they approved of banning smoking in enclosed areas of bars, while 50.5 percent disapproved

57 percent of managers agreed that bar workers have right to a work environment free of second-hand smoke, while 16 percent disagreed

61 percent thought there would be short-term or no economic impact on their business, while 25 percent thought the impact would be permanent.

Dr Bloomfield says "Research shows 80 percent of New Zealanders support bar workers' rights to a work environment free of second-hand smoke, compared with 57 percent for bar managers. We fully expect the differences in attitude of the general population and the bar managers will close up as time goes on, and that support will continue to increase.

"These initial survey results are interesting because they indicate that although some are nervous about the smoke-free changes, many of the bar managers surveyed have not panicked in response to fears of possible business close-downs. Their views are consistent with many international studies that show smoke-free legislation has a neutral to positive economic impact on bars, after an initial transition period.

"This is the first release of information, and we are collecting data on the economic impact of the smoke-free legislation, which should be available from early 2006," Dr Bloomfield says.

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