Background: Compliance with state and local laws restricting smoking in public places and workplaces has not been systematically evaluated.
Methods: We assessed workplace compliance with a comprehensive no-smoking law adopted in Brookline, Mass, and tested whether mailing information to businesses increased awareness of and compliance with the law. We conducted a random sample telephone survey of 299 businesses (87% response rate). Self-reported compliance was validated by direct observations.
Results: One year after its adoption, the law was popular with businesses. The prevalence of smoking restrictions, smoking policies, and no-smoking signs was 80%, 59%, and 40%, respectively. One third of businesses banned smoking. Full compliance with the law was low, however, because few businesses posted a copy of their smoking policy as required. The mailing increased employers' awareness of the law. Employers sent the mailing also reported better compliance, but this was not confirmed by direct observations.
Conclusions: The law was popular and contributed to a high prevalence of workplace smoking restrictions. Different interpretations of the law by policymakers and businesses seemed to explain why formal compliance was low. The mailing increased awareness of, but not compliance with, the law.