• Open Access

Is government action out-of-step with public opinion on tobacco control? Results of a New South Wales population survey


Correspondence to:
Conjoint A/Professor Raoul Walsh, Centre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology, Locked Mail Bag 10, Wallsend NSW 2287. Fax: (02) 4924 6208; e-mail: Raoul.Walsh@newcastle.edu.au


Objective: To assess community attitudes towards smoking bans, tobacco availability, promotion and product regulation, tobacco industry donations to political parties, and government spending on tobacco control activities. To compare public preferences on these issues with policies of the NSW and Commonwealth governments.

Method: Anonymous, computer assisted telephone interviews of adults from randomly selected households in the NSW Electronic White Pages conducted in 2004. All subjects completed a core question set and subsequently, one of three sub-sets.

Results: Overall 49.1% of eligible subjects consented. Data from two sub-samples containing 1,191 and 1,158 subjects are reported. Majority support existed for smoking bans in all six settings assessed: children's playgrounds (89%), sports stadia (77%), licensed premises (72%), outdoor dining (69%), beaches (55%) and motor vehicles carrying children (55%). Respondents nominated vastly higher tobacco control budgets than current levels of government expenditure. On a scale assessing support for tobacco control (maximum score = 13), the mean scores of both non-smokers (10.4) and smokers (8.0) were high. Of seven variables tested, only two: living with a smoker and personal smoking status were independent predictors of having a high pro-tobacco control score.

Conclusion: There is strong community support for additional government regulation mandating smoke-free provision and other counter tobacco measures.

Implications: Continued advocacy campaigns are required to align government tobacco control agenda more closely with public preferences.