• Open Access

Regulation of environmental tobacco smoke by Australian drug treatment agencies


Centre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology, Locked Mail Bag 10, Wallsend, New South Wales 2287. Fax: (02) 4924 6208; e-mail: Raoul.Walsh@newcastle.edu.au


Objective: To determine how smoking is regulated in alcohol and other drug treatment agencies.

Method: Australian drug treatment agencies were mailed questionnaires for completion by the manager and one other staff member (553 packages posted).

Results: Questionnaires were returned by 260 (59.8%) eligible agencies. Most respondents (82.5% managers, 76.7% other staff) indicated their agency had a written policy regulating smoking. The vast majority (88.2% managers, 82.3% other staff) reported smoking was banned inside their agency, with the highest proportion of bans being in the area health category (95.8% managers, 93.7% other staff) and the lowest in the residential rehabilitation category (75.6% managers, 62.8% other staff). Of the respondents reporting a ban, 19.1% of managers and 27.5% of other staff reported their agency's ban was not ‘always’ enforced. Paired analyses suggested that other staff were more likely to indicate that the agency had no written policy or be unsure and managers were more likely to report that smoking bans were ‘always’ stringently enforced. Overall, a substantial minority of respondents (managers 28.6%, other staff 40.2%) indicated that smoking occurred inside their agency at least occasionally.

Conclusions and Implications: A substantial proportion of Australian drug and alcohol agencies continue to permit smoking inside their premises. Policy initiatives and educational campaigns are required to promote the expansion of smoke-free conditions in this sector. Serious consideration should be given to making the adoption and enforcement of internal smoke-free policies a condition of any continued government funding.