Hotel Online Special Report
Bar Patrons in California Support Smoke-Free Bars
SACRAMENTO, Calif - June 24, 1998--The vast majority of California's bar patrons say it is important to have a smoke-free environment in bars, according to a survey released Wednesday by the California Department of Health Services.

The survey was conducted by Field Research Corp., a leading independent opinion research firm. Of bar patrons surveyed, two-thirds (66 percent) say it is "very important" or "somewhat important" to have smoke-free bars. And 67 percent say that they are concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke on their health.

The survey also found that 85 percent of bar patrons report that they will go to bars more often or not change their bar-going behavior as a result of the new California law prohibiting smoking in bars. "This survey is significant because it confirms that bar patrons support the smoke-free law," said State Health Director Kim Belshe. "Contrary to reports, the overwhelming majority of Californians who go to the 36,000 restaurant bars and stand-alone bars in California enjoy a smoke-free environment."

"Californians clearly understand the well-documented health risks and deadly consequences associated with secondhand smoke," added Belshe. The random-digit dial telephone survey of 1,001 California residents was conducted during the period of Feb. 24 to March 2, 1998, by Field Research. Subjects were screened for having been to a nightclub, bar, lounge or bar/restaurant in the past 12 months.

The survey also found that:
Nearly all (98 percent) of bar patrons have seen, read or heard about the new California law prohibiting smoking in bars.
Fifty-nine percent of bar patrons reported they support the state law which bans smoking in bars, while 39 percent disapprove.
Only 26 percent of bar patrons reported that they are smokers.
Seventy-five percent of bar patrons who smoke reported that they are complying with the smoke-free bar law.

This survey contradicts an aggressive public relations campaign being orchestrated by the National Smokers Alliance, a group funded by the tobacco industry, as part of its attempt to overturn the law. In addition, it's the second survey to show widespread support in California for smoke-free bars. A Los Angeles Times poll conducted last month also found that a majority of Californians favor the new law. (Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1998, page A3).

"Public health policy must be based on unbiased scientific evidence -- not dictated by well-funded tobacco industry front groups," stated Belshe. "It is unfortunate that the tobacco industry still denies that secondhand smoke poses a health risk. The fact is there is irrefutable scientific evidence that secondhand smoke causes disease and death."

The results of this survey reinforce what has already been learned from other surveys and opinion polls that show strong support for smoke-free bars among bar patrons.

Assembly Bill 13, signed into law by Governor Wilson in 1994, is a public health measure designed to protect employees from secondhand smoke by banning smoking in indoor workplaces. Since the law's smoke-free bar provision went into effect Jan. 1, 1998, the 850,000 Californians who work in restaurants and bars are now afforded the same protection from secondhand smoke that the rest of California's work force has enjoyed since Jan. 1, 1995.

California Department of Health Services
Ken August, 916/657-3064
Rogers  Associates, Los Angeles
Jennifer Morgan, 310/552-6922, ext. 162

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