September 10, 2001
Tobacco Company Study:
(Ottawa) - Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada have discovered a formerly secret tobacco company document that shows that smokers don't stop frequenting establishments because of smoke-free environments. "The tobacco companies know that smoke-free bylaws work," said Michael Chaiton, researcher at Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, "the businesses that are really hurt by smoking bans are tobacco companies."
The document was a major focus group study conducted by Decima Research in June 1988 for Imperial Tobacco to test perceptions of second-hand smoke. The tobacco company research showed that most smokers would not consider patronizing different businesses because of smoking regulations.
The testing also demonstrated that although most smokers expressed dissatisfaction when smoking regulations were imposed, they understood and accepted that the measures would benefit the health of Canadians.
In fact, smokers appeared to appreciate smoke-free spaces as much as non-smokers do.
While non-smokers generally accepted that smokers had a “right” to smoke, the Imperial Tobacco/Decima report showed that the right to breathe fresh air was much more important. The focus group participants felt that people were entitled to a smoke-free environment.
Although the research was conducted in 1988, experiences of the implementation of smoke-free regulations in Canada and the United States suggest that the report is still relevant.
“The pattern is the same whenever new regulations on smoking are imposed,” said Mr. Chaiton. “At first, smokers grumble about the regulations being imposed too quickly and too harshly, but at the end of the day, smokers enjoy smoke-free places as much as non-smokers.”
study is available online at
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