Restaurant smoking sections in South Africa and the perceived impact of the proposed smoke-free laws: evidence from a nationally representative survey
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University of Cape Town, School of Economics, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, Economics of Tobacco Control, South Africa
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A23
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In 2016 the South African Minister of Health announced his intention to introduce tobacco control legislation to make all public areas completely smoke-free. As such, restaurant smoking sections, introduced in 2001, will become obsolete. This study aims to analyse current smoking policies of restaurants in South Africa, whether and how these policies have changed over the past decade, and restaurateurs' attitudes towards the proposed legislative changes.

From a population of nearly 12 000 restaurants, derived from four websites, we sampled 2000 restaurants, stratifying by province and type (independent versus franchised) and disproportionately sampling small strata to ensure meaningful analysis. We successfully surveyed 741 restaurants, mostly telephonically. We also surveyed 60 franchisors from a population of 82 franchisors.

Currently 45% of restaurants in South Africa do not have smoking sections, 44% have smoking sections outside and 11% have smoking sections inside. Smoking areas are more common amongst independent restaurants (62%) than franchised restaurants (43%). Of the restaurants with smoking sections, 33% of the smoking sections are busier than the non-smoking sections. 23% of restaurants have changed their smoking policies in the past ten years, mostly removing or reducing the size of the smoking sections. Customer requests (39%), compliance with the law (35%) and cost and revenue pressures (14%) were the main reasons for changing smoking policies. 91% of the restaurant respondents support the current legislation, while 63% support the proposed legislative changes. 68% of respondents who are aware of the proposed legislation support it, compared to 58% of respondents who are not aware of the proposed legislation.

In contrast to the vehement opposition to the 1999 legislation, which resulted in restaurants going partially smoke-free in 2001, there is limited opposition from restaurants to the proposed 100% smoke-free legislative changes. Support for the proposed legislation will probably increase as knowledge thereof grows.

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