A team of University of Western Australia researchers recently completed a telephone survey of 2,005 West Australian adults, that showed support for initiatives such as plain packaging of cigarettes and smoking bans were high among both smokers and non-smokers alike.
Dr Simone Pettigrew says the study provides research-backed evidence for policy makers to introduce more extensive tobacco control regulations.
“The areas that we focus on in this paper are outdoor locations, and whilst this is one of the first large scale studies to look at support for regulation, the evidence shows that [policy makers] could be more pro-active without losing community support,” she says.
“One of the most interesting aspects of the survey was that even a majority of smokers supported these initiatives.”
“Governments do not need to worry about a [community] backlash against such measures, because smokers are a shrinking group and even amongst that group there is [majority support].”
Researchers say around half of the survey respondents supported plain packaging and almost a further quarter reported being neutral on the issue.
One in three smokers disagreed with the introduction of a plain packaging policy.
Support for tougher legislation was strongest among those with children under the age of 15 years and among women.
Independent sponsorship group Healthway are currently negotiating several deals with outdoor events, such as the Perth Zoo and Perth Royal Show, to assist with the costs of becoming ‘smoke free’ and promotion to the public.
“Healthway has been proactive in ensuring these policies are implemented at an organisational level, [and] the data sets provide the evidence we need to show that these are effective, feasible and supported by the public,” Dr Pettigrew says.
A majority of respondents supported smoking bans at a broad range of venues including parks, zoos and community events.
Dr Pettigrew says the results do not reveal exact figures of support in other states however considering the level of public support of new regulations in Western Australia; it would likely be similar in other states.
“WA has been more proactive in the past over anti-tobacco initiatives, hence our lower smoking rates relative to the national average. However, I don’t think there is any reason to suggest additional research would show attitudinal differences in other states.”