Smokefree bars policy in New Zealand shows economic benefits and growing support

The introduction of a smokefree law in bars and restaurants in New Zealand has had positive health and economic impacts. A study published recently in the open access journal BMC Public Health reveals that the proportion of smokers who reported smoking more when going out to public social venues halved following the implementation of the 2003 New Zealand Smokefree Environments Act. Support from smokers for smokefree bars doubled over the six months following the implementation of the Act. The study also shows that hospitality industry sales and employment increased, contrary to predictions from groups opposing the Act.

George Thomson and Nick Wilson from the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand, analysed the results of national surveys on smoking in bars and attitudes to smoking. The surveys were taken before and after the implementation of the new law, which made all work places, including bars and restaurants, smokefree from December 2004. Thomson and Wilson also studied data obtained from Statistics New Zealand, the Liquor Licensing Authority and interviews with government officials.

The study found that the proportion of smokers who reported that they smoked "more than normal" when going out decreased from 57.8% in 2004 to 28.6% in 2005. Public support for smokefree policies for pubs and bars increased between November 2004 and April 2005. Support from smokers went from 22% to 42% and support from bar managers went from 44% to 60%. Café and restaurant sales grew by 9.3% in 2005.

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Article:
One year of smokefree bars and restaurants in New Zealand: Impacts and responses
George Thomson, Nick Wilson
BMC Public Health 2006, 6:64 (14 March 2006)

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