Objectives: To evaluate the impact of smoke-free dining legislation introduced in South Australia on 4 January 1999. Specifically, to determine changes in public support and support among the restaurant and cafe industry; to determine changes to self-reported experiences of dining out; and to assess compliance with the legislation.
Methods: A series of independent, representative, cross-sectional surveys were undertaken over time. Study 1: 3000+ South Australians, aged 15 and over, were interviewed about opinions of the legislation and about dining out, in an annual household survey in October-November in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Study 2: 500+ owners and managers of public dining venues were interviewed about their opinions about and experiences of the legislation in face-to-face surveys in May-June 1999 and July 2000.
Results: Study 1: Public support for smoke-free dining increased from 73.4% in 1997 to 84.2% in 1999. In 1999, 60.2% reported the ban had made dining out more enjoyable and 35.1% indicated no difference. Study 2: 88.2-92.3% of restaurants were complying with the legislation at five months and 95.7-99.6% at 18 months. In 2000, 82% of restaurateurs reported that they had spent no money in order to implement the law.
Conclusions and implications: Smoke-free dining in South Australia is popular and has resulted in increased perceived enjoyment for patrons. The legislative change has apparently been adhered to by both the majority of restaurateurs and customers, and was inexpensive for restaurateurs to implement. Smoke-free dining legislation can be implemented with confidence.