Despite the great progress made towards smoke-free environments, only 9% of countries worldwide mandate smoke-free restaurants and bars. Smoking was generally not regulated in restaurants and bars in China before 2008. This study was designed to examine the public attitudes towards banning smoking in these places in China. A convenience sample of 814 restaurants and bars was selected in five Chinese cities and all owners of these venues were interviewed in person by questionnaire in 2007. Eighty six percent of current nonsmoking subjects had at least one-day exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) at work in the past week. Only 51% of subjects knew SHS could cause heart disease. Only 17% and 11% of subjects supported prohibiting smoking completely in restaurants and in bars, respectively, while their support for restricting smoking to designated areas was much higher. Fifty three percent of subjects were willing to prohibit or restrict smoking in their own venues. Of those unwilling to do so, 82% thought smoking bans would reduce revenue, and 63% thought indoor air quality depended on ventilation rather than smoking bans. These results showed that there was support for smoking bans among restaurant or bar owners in China despite some knowledge gaps. To facilitate smoking bans in restaurants and bars, it is important to promote health education on specific hazards of SHS, provide country-specific evidence on smoking bans and hospitality revenues, and disseminate information that restricting smoking and ventilation alone cannot eliminate SHS hazards.
Keywords: attitudes; knowledge; restaurant and bar; secondhand smoke; smoking ban.