Patrons starting to support smoking ban

The Associated Press
Tuesday October 17, 2000

SACRAMENTO — More California bar patrons like the state’s nearly 3-year-old ban on smoking in bars than did when the prohibition was imposed, according to a new poll. 

The number of bargoers who approve of the law that prohibits smoking in bars rose from 59 percent in 1998, just after the law took effect, to 73 percent last summer, according to the poll. 

The $50,000 survey was conducted for the state Department of Health Services by the Field Research Corp., which also did the March 1998 poll. 

“Despite repeated attempts by the tobacco industry and its allies to overturn this measure, the vast majority of California bar patrons agree that they want their bars to be smoke-free,” department Director Diana Bonta said Monday. 

Among the bar patrons who smoke, the new poll found a decline in those who admitted they smoked inside a bar. Only 14 percent said they broke the law, compared with 25 percent in 1998. 

The poll also found that 91 percent of the patrons surveyed said they either go to bars more often since 1998 or have not changed their bar-related behavior because of the law. In 1998, 85 percent gave the same answers. 

The National Smokers Alliance, an organization of smokers based in Alexandria, Va., and a critic of the no-smoking law, had not seen the new survey Monday and did not have immediate comment, said spokeswoman Sheila Bumgardner. A total of 1,000 Californians ages 21 and older who said they had been in a bar at least once in the past year were interviewed for the poll. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent. The Field Research Corp. is related to the San Francisco-based organization that conducts the Field Poll on political topics. 

On the Net: The department is at http://www.dhs.ca.gov 

The National Smokers Alliance is at http://www.smokersalliance.org