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Public support of nonsmokers' right to breathe smoke-free air before and after enacting new regulations in Israel: Implications and perceived reduction in smoking a year after they were enacted

Hannah Peleg, MA, Office of the Associate Director General, Israel Ministry of Health, Rivka 29, Jerusalem, Israel, Nurit Guttman, PhD, Department of Communication, Tel-Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, Tel-Aviv, 69978, Israel, 972-3-640-9010, guttman@post.tau.ac.il, and Yair Amikam, MA, Office of Information and International Relations, Israel Ministry of Health, Ben-Tabay 2, Jerusalem, Israel.

Background: Several months before enacting new regulations to substantially expand restrictions on smoking in public places, the Israel Ministry of Health conducted a survey to gauge public support or opposition to the new regulations. A year later it conducted another follow-up survey to investigate public attitudes towards the restrictions and their perceived effects.

Method: two phone surveys of a representative sample of the adult Israeli population were conducted. The analysis distinguished between smokers and nonsmokers.

Selected findings: A surprising majority prior to the new regulations supported restricting smoking in all sites specified in the new regulations except shopping malls. Most (over 80% in both surveys) agreed nonsmokers’ right to smoke-free air in public places surpasses smokers’ rights to smoke. A large majority in both surveys believed smoking is harmful to nonsmokers who are in their vicinity (88%: 91% respectively). The new regulations were believed by most to have decreased smoking in public places and help smokers reduce smoking (32% said so among smokers). Nearly half of smokers reported checking if there is a “No-Smoking” sign when intending to smoke in a public place. Both before and after the regulations many, including smokers (half before and 63% after), said they prefer restaurants that designate smoking areas.

Conclusion: Public support for restricting smoking in public places and of nonsmokers' right to breathe smoke-free air--is strong, and perceived as instrumental in the reduction of smoking. "No Smoking" signs are important in the enactment of new regulations. Despite restaurant owners’ concerns about the new regulations, most people prefer restaurants that provide designated areas.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Tobacco Policy, Public Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Public opinion regarding Israel Ministry of Health's new regulations on restrictions on smoking in public places
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

International Tobacco Poster Session

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA