Reductions in tobacco smoke pollution and increases in support for smoke-free public places following the implementation of comprehensive smoke-free workplace legislation in the Republic of Ireland : findings from the ITC Ireland/UK Survey

Fong, G. T. and Hyland, A. and Borland, R. and Hammond, D. and Hastings, G. and McNeill, A. and Anderson, S. and Cummings, K. M. and Allwright, S. and Mulcahy, M. and Howell, F. and Clancy, L. and Thompson, M. E. and Connolly, G. and Driezen, P. (2006) Reductions in tobacco smoke pollution and increases in support for smoke-free public places following the implementation of comprehensive smoke-free workplace legislation in the Republic of Ireland : findings from the ITC Ireland/UK Survey. Tobacco Control, 15 (Suppl ). iii51-iii58. ISSN 0964-4563

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Abstract

This paper was to evaluate the psychosocial and behavioural impact of the first ever national level comprehensive workplace smoke-free law, implemented in Ireland in March 2004. Quasi-experimental prospective cohort survey: parallel cohort telephone surveys of national representative samples of adult smokers in Ireland (n  =  769) and the UK (n  =  416), surveyed before the law (December 2003 to January 2004) and 8–9 months after the law (December 2004 to January 2005). Respondents’ reports of smoking in key public venues, support for total bans in those key venues, and behavioural changes due to the law. The Irish law led to dramatic declines in reported smoking in all venues, including workplaces (62% to 14%), restaurants (85% to 3%), and bars/pubs (98% to 5%). Support for total bans among Irish smokers increased in all venues, including workplaces (43% to 67%), restaurants (45% to 77%), and bars/pubs (13% to 46%). Overall, 83% of Irish smokers reported that the smoke-free law was a “good” or “very good” thing. The proportion of Irish homes with smoking bans also increased. Approximately 46% of Irish smokers reported that the law had made them more likely to quit. Among Irish smokers who had quit at post-legislation, 80% reported that the law had helped them quit and 88% reported that the law helped them stay quit. The Ireland smoke-free law stands as a positive example of how a population-level policy intervention can achieve its public health goals while achieving a high level of acceptance among smokers. These findings support initiatives in many countries toward implementing smoke-free legislation, particularly those who have ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which calls for legislation to reduce tobacco smoke pollution.