Objective: To examine attitudes towards and compliance with the recent Australian bans on smoking in licensed venues, and to explore effects on smoking behaviour.
Methods: Three Australian states (Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia) implemented a total ban on smoking in all enclosed licensed premises in 2006, and two others (Victoria and New South Wales) did so in mid-2007. We used data from smokers residing in these states for each of the six waves of the ITC-4 country survey (2002-2007; average n=1,694).
Results: Consistent with the majority of international findings, observed compliance was reported by more than 90% of smokers from a pre-ban situation of indoor smoking being the norm. Attitudes became more positive in the year before the ban, but more than doubled in the year the bans were implemented. The associations found for the leading states were replicated by the lagging states a year later. We found no evidence for any increase in permitting smoking inside the home after the bans took effect. Further, we were unable to find any evidence of reductions in daily cigarette consumption or any increase in quitting activity due to the bans.
Implications: These results add to a growing body of international research that suggests that smokers are readily able to comply with, and increasingly support, smoke-free bars, though the bans may have limited effect on their smoking habits.