As policymakers, businesses and places of public accommodation consider implementing smoke-free policies, questions arise concerning the attitudes of the public about such policies. Measuring public opinion is still far from being a science; however, there are more reputable and less reputable surveys, as well as some surveys that are clearly biased, both intentionally and inadvertently. We believe that it is important for all persons to have access to surveys which are unbiased and as reputable as possible.
Therefore, in this section of the SFELP web site, we have provided links to a limited number of recent public opinion surveys concerning smoke-free environments and related issues. We have attempted to include only those surveys which we believe are authoritative and unbiased. We also recognize that public opinion changes over time, and that public opinion surveys are only one aspect of the considerations that policymakers, businesses and others utilize as they make decisions about the adoption of smoke-free policies.
Public opinion surveys included below are in the following three topic areas: Michigan voter surveys; Other state & national public opinion surveys; and Public opinion surveys on smoke-free apartment topics.
MICHIGAN VOTER SURVEYS ON SMOKE-FREE ENVIRONMENTS & RELATED TOPICS
On July 12, 2004, the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency released the following voter survey information: Registered voters from northwest Michigan support a smoking ban in work sites and public places, according to survey results released today by the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency. The American Cancer Society conducted the survey in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties. It was designed to determine northwest Michigan registered voters' attitudes about secondhand smoke in work sites and public places. According to Gerald Chase, Health Officer, highlights of the survey include: 82% of registered voters surveyed agree a smoking restriction is needed so children and non-smokers do not have to be exposed to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke; 87% of registered voters surveyed agree that indoor areas of work sites and public places should be smoke-free; and 92% of registered voters surveyed understand that secondhand smoke can harm people who don't smoke. To access the full press release announcing the survey results, click above.
A scientific telephone survey of Chippewa County voters was conducted in February 2004 to identify beliefs and opinions about secondhand smoke and assess potential support for a county regulation addressing smoking in worksites and public places. The study was commissioned by Tobacco-Free Michigan and conducted by the American Cancer Society. Key findings of the survey were as follows: 90% of Chippewa County registered voters agree that secondhand smoke is harmful to health; 86% of Chippewa County registered voters agree that indoor areas of worksites and public places should be smoke-free; 75% of Chippewa County registered voters agree that local government should support public health, including restricting smoking which would eliminate secondhand smoke exposure; and, 85% of Chippewa County registered voters agree that a county regulation is needed so children and nonsmokers do not have to be exposed to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke in worksites and public places. To access the full voter survey report, in pdf format, click above.
A voter survey conducted by the American Cancer Society and Tobacco-Free Michigan in Genesee County, Michigan and released on June 16, 2003 found that 89% of Genesee County residents recognized that secondhand smoke was harmful to people, and 83% believed that county regulation of secondhand smoke was needed to protect children and nonsmokers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. For a press release describing the survey results, click above. To access the voter survey report, in pdf format, click here.
A voter survey conducted by the American Cancer Society and Tobacco-Free Michigan in November, 2002 in Jackson County, Michigan found that 92% of Jackson County residents believed that secondhand smoke was harmful, and 80% believed that county regulation of secondhand smoke was needed to protect the public from the health dangers of secondhand smoke. For a news article describing the survey results, click above. To access the voter survey report, in pdf format, click here.
At the request of the Marquette County, Michigan, Board of Health, a survey of over 400 county residents was conducted in October and November, 2002 to determine their views on smoke-free worksite and public places laws for the county. The results showed that 66.7 percent of respondents agreed that it is government's responsibility to protect public health, including the restriction of smoking, and 77.4 percent said they believed regulation was needed to protect children, clients and visitors in public places and work sites. Roughly 79 percent of people indicated they were concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke on themselves and their family members. Twenty-two percent of the people responding indicated they were currently smokers. The survey also showed that while the majority of people who opposed the smoking ban were smokers, nearly 40 percent of smokers supported the ban. For the full news article, with survey results, click above. To access the full voter survey report, in pdf format, click here.
The Kent County, Michigan "Clean Air Now!" coalition, on August 8, 2002, released the results of a survey of 404 randomly selected Kent County voters to determine their views on smoke-free worksite and public places laws. The June, 2002 telephone survey of registered voters in Kent County found that 81% believe a county regulation is needed to protect workers and children from exposure to secondhand smoke in worksites and public places. 91% of voters also recognize secondhand smoke is harmful to people. The survey was conducted by Precision Research, and analyzed by Community Research Institute of Grand Valley State University. In addition to a clear concern about secondhand smoke, over 89% of respondents agree indoor worksites should be smoke-free. For 80% of the voters, supporting a regulation that provided smoke-free air would either improve or have no negative impact on a county commission candidate's chance for winning their election. To access the full survey report, in pdf format, click above. To access a copy of the press release issued by Clean Air Now!, click here. To access the Grand Rapids Press news story on this, click here.
Ingham County, Michigan Voter Survey Finds Vast Majority of Voters Know Secondhand Smoke is Dangerous, Believe That Government Has A Responsibility to Protect the Working Public and Want Smoke-Free Workplaces
On January 10, 2002 the results were released of a telephone survey conducted in late November of 500 registered voters in Ingham County, Michigan (home of the state capitol, Lansing). The results showed that an overwhelming 94.5% of respondents understand that secondhand smoke is unhealthy and harmful to others, including 83% of smokers who agree that secondhand smoke is harmful to non-smokers. Eight out of 10 respondents favored smoke-free worksites. Only 15% of registered voters reported they smoke. The survey, conducted by Public Policy Associates, a Lansing-based public policy research firm, and funded by Robert Wood Johnson's SmokeLess States Program with the Tobacco-Free Michigan Action Coalition (TFMAC) asked voters a series of questions to determine their attitudes and understanding about secondhand smoke and smoking in public places and worksites, excluding bars and restaurants. In addition to a clear awareness about secondhand smoke, over 79% of respondents favor smoke-free worksites; indeed almost half (48%) of smokers responded in favor of smoke-free workplaces. Further, voters in local elections (60.2%) were more likely to strongly agree that all indoor worksites should be smoke-free when compared with non-voters in local elections (53.8%). For the full TFMAC press release on the survey, click above. For the Public Policy Associates press release with survey findings, click here. For full TFMAC Survey of Ingham County Voters (in pdf file), click here. For the Demographics (in pdf file), click here.
OTHER STATE & NATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION SURVEYS ON SMOKE-FREE ENVIRONMENTS & RELATED TOPICS
According to a Gallup Poll released on August 15, 2002: Over the last decade, smokers have generally seemed tolerant of increased restrictions on smoking in public places. Gallup's most recent survey on smoking, conducted July 9-11, 2002, found only 39% of smokers feeling "unjustly discriminated against" by these regulations; 58% said the restrictions are justified. These attitudes have not changed since 1994. By contrast, a majority of smokers express resentment about rising cigarette taxes: Two-thirds (68%) say they feel unjustly discriminated against by the increase in taxes, while just 29% believe the increases are justified. For the full 9 page press release on this poll, including detailed poll results, click above.
A November 29, 2000 public opinion survey by The Gallup Organization found that 95% of Americans surveyed favored either a total ban on smoking in restaurants or limiting smoking to separate sections; 47% favored a total ban (54% of non-smokers favored a total ban), and 48% favored separate smoking areas. These figures reflect a significant increase over the past 13 years, with just 17% of those surveyed in 1987 favoring a total smoking ban in restaurants. Figures on attitudes about smoking in the workplace also show an increase in public support for smoking bans, although not as substantial as for restaurant smoking bans; 37% now favor total bans on smoking in the workplace, also up from 17% in 1987, with another 57% saying smoking should only be permitted in separate areas. The Gallup survey also includes information about attitudes of smokers about their own smoking and addiction to cigarettes, as well as their smoking rates. For full Gallup survey report, click above.
On October 16, 2000, the results were released of an independent statewide survey in California by respected polling firm, Field Research Corporation, which found that 73% of those bar patrons polled approved of the California law prohibiting them from smoking in bars. This is a dramatic 24% increase from the 59% level when the law took effect in 1998. Further, the poll, conducted in June/July, 2000, found that 75% of bar patrons say that a smoke-free environment in clubs, bars, lounges and restaurants with bars is "very important" or "somewhat important" to them. In addition, 72% of bar patrons say they are concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke on their health. Other key survey findings include the following: 91% of bar patrons either go to bars more often or have not changed their bar-going behavior as a result of the smoking ban; 87% of bar patrons say they enjoy visiting bars as much or more due to the ban; on average, bar patrons are staying longer at bars than prior to the smoking ban; and, support for the ban has almost doubled among smokers since it went into effect in 1998, increasing from 24% to 44 %. The survey provides strong evidence that the warnings that such smoking bans will hurt business, often uttered by the tobacco and hospitality industries, are based on smoke, not substance. For a press release from the California Department of Health Services, which includes a link to bar graph charts in pdf, click above.
PUBLIC OPINION SURVEYS ON SMOKE-FREE APARTMENTS TOPICS
The Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing of the American Lung Association of California in March, 2006 released the results of a California statewide survey that the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing commissioned regarding apartment owner/managers and smoking in multi-unit housing. These poll numbers are very positive and, together with a previously commissioned survey of apartment renters, should be helpful in the continuing efforts to address the issue of secondhand smoke exposure in multi-unit housing in California. These latest poll results clearly demonstrate that apartment managers and owners support efforts to address the problem of drifting smoke in multi-unit housing complexes. 57 percent of apartment owners/managers favor a law requiring all apartment buildings in their city to offer non-smoking sections. Support for a smoke-free apartment law rises to 67 percent among apartment owners/managers when they learn that this law would protect people from secondhand smoke and could reduce their fire insurance premium. The poll results are consistent with the 2004 survey of California's apartment renters that showed support for smoke-free sections in apartment complexes. In the earlier poll commissioned by The Center, 69 percent of apartment renters favor a law requiring all apartment buildings in their city to offer non-smoking sections. Further, the poll demonstrated that owners and managers understand the problem of drifting smoke. 69 percent say that secondhand smoke can drift from one apartment to another and more than 70 percent say that it can drift from outside an apartment building into an apartment. More than 85 percent of both apartment renters and owners/managers say that secondhand smoke is harmful. The two telephone surveys were conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research. The survey of 600 apartment renters was conducted in May 2004, and the survey of 300 apartment owners and managers was completed in June 2005. More information on the survey and the poll results can be found on the Center's website by clicking above.
An American Lung Association of California press release dated Sept. 7, 2004 states: Renters throughout California want non-smoking sections in their apartment complexes, according to the results from a statewide survey commissioned by the American Lung Association of California's Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing. In addition, apartment tenants want to limit smoking in outdoor common areas. The telephone survey of 602 apartment residents found that 69 percent would favor requiring all apartment buildings to offer non-smoking sections and 67 percent would favor limiting smoking in outdoor common areas such as pool areas, entryways, and courtyards. Nearly 90 percent of tenants believe exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful, with nearly two-thirds of those (63 percent of all tenants) saying it is "very harmful." Of these tenants who believe exposure to secondhand smoke is very harmful, 81 percent endorse separate non-smoking sections in apartment buildings. In addition, fully 96 percent of those who favor non-smoking sections agree that secondhand smoke is harmful. Among those who support non-smoking sections, 84 percent had experienced secondhand smoke drifting into their apartment. Support for separate non-smoking sections in apartments was even higher among the fourteen percent of respondents who live in public housing. To access the full press release, click here. To access the full survey results, click above.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the Kitsap County Health District in Washington state in March, 2003 published an excellent 28-page report on the findings of a random sample phone survey of 1,106 tenants in Pierce and Kitsap Counties conducted in January, 2003. The findings of the survey dealt with the prevalence of smoking among multifamily rental households, the movement of secondhand smoke in multifamily buildings, the tenant interest in having smoke-free rental units, and characteristics of multifamily rental residences in the 2-county region. The study found that about 67% of tenants surveyed were very or somewhat interested in living in smoke-free housing. To access the full survey report, in pdf format, click above. To go to the Tacoma-Pierce and Kitsap Counties' Smoke-Free Housing Site for more information and materials, click here.
A press release from 2003 from the American Lung Association of California states that they had Goodwin Simon Strategic Research conducted a telephone survey of voters living in the city of Los Angeles. The purpose of the survey was to assess attitudes among city voters about possible laws restricting smoking and establishing non-smoking areas in city-funded multi-family housing units. In addition, the survey explored general attitudes about laws that restrict smoking in public places, and also about possible laws to restrict smoking in common areas in privately-owned apartment buildings. The survey was conducted between May 29 and June 2, 2003 and consisted of a total of 400 interviews. Fully 67 percent would favor a law to require any new apartment building constructed with city funds to include non-smoking units. Only 27 percent would oppose such a law. The survey found strong majorities in favor of the possible law across all political parties (especially among Republicans), racial or ethnic groups (especially among Latinos), ages, areas of the city, and political ideologies. Even among the 15 percent of municipal election voters who currently identify themselves as smokers, nearly half would favor such a law. Moreover, when told that the purpose of such a law was "to provide smoke-free apartments for families with children and for those with chronic illnesses who should not be exposed to secondhand smoke," support rose to 76 percent, with just 21 percent opposed. We found slightly lower support for a proposed law to require the city to build fully smoke-free apartments: 59 percent would favor such a law, with 36 percent opposed. Not only do L.A. voters support a requirement that publicly funded apartments include non-smoking units, but we also found strong support for smoking restrictions in privately owned apartments: Fully 64 percent would favor "a ban on smoking in indoor common areas, such as the lobby, stairwell, or laundry room in privately owned apartment buildings." Only 31 percent would oppose this ban. To access the full press release and the full survey results, click above.
Harris Poll: Slight Majority Supports Apartment Co-op's No Smoking Policy for New Applicants; Not Surprisingly, Nationwide Poll Shows More Non-Smokers Than Smokers Feel The Board Has the Right to Ban Smoking
Following a decision by the board of a co-op (apartment building partly owned by residents) in New York City to ban smoking for incoming applicants, adopted in April, 2002, which drew widespread media attention, Harris Interactive surveyed more than 2,000 adults for their opinions pertaining to the board's decision and the policy. Findings showed that slightly more than half (53%) of those surveyed said that they would support the board's decision while 39% said they would oppose it. These data are the result of a special Harris Interactive QuickQuery online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults (18+), conducted on May 2 - 6, 2002. Among those surveyed, 29% were smokers and 71% non-smokers. Not too surprisingly, among non-smokers, 69% supported the ban while only 14% of smokers supported it overall. When asked if they'd support the board's decision if the building could not be modified to keep smoke out of other apartments, the percentage who supported the decision then increases from 53%, up to 60%. Interestingly, the increase in support can be traced to the percentage of smokers who supported the ban, which more than doubles from 14% to 29% when unpreventable, adverse building ventilation factors are considered. Non-smokers also showed increased support from 69% to 73% if structural problems could not be remedied. For the full poll results, click above.
The article of the above title was published in 2003 in the international journal Tobacco Control and was authored by D. Hennrikus, P. R. Pentel, and S. D. Sandell. This study assessed renters' preferences for official smoking policies in their buildings and their practices concerning restricting tobacco smoking in their apartments. Renters (n = 301) living in large apartment complexes in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, completed a mail survey in 2001. The survey asked about the official smoking policies in place in their apartment buildings, their preferences for policies, whether they had smelled tobacco smoke coming into their apartments from without, and, if so, what they had done about it. The majority of non-smokers (79%) preferred that their building be smoke-free. When asked to identify the current smoking policy in their buildings, residents disagreed substantially. Most renters (60%) reported smoke-free policies in their own apartments and another significant proportion (23%) restricted smoking to certain areas or occasions or persons. 75% thought that enforcing a smoke-free policy for guests would not be difficult. 53% of those in non-smoking households had smelled tobacco smoke in their apartments; most of these reported being bothered by it. However, very few complained to the building owner or manager (15.5%) or to the smoker (6.9%). The authors concluded: The majority of non-smokers preferred that their buildings be smoke-free. A failure to report problems to apartment managers might be an impediment to instituting smoke-free policies in apartment buildings. The considerable disagreement among residents within apartment complexes about the current official smoking policy in their buildings suggests that policies are lacking or are not well communicated. To access the full article, click above.
On April 25, 2001, a Field Research Corporation public opinion survey conducted in California for the state Health Department found broad support for an expansion of California's already very comprehensive smoking bans. The poll showed that Californians want additional smoke-free environments that go beyond what is currently mandated by state law, including supporting smoke-free areas in the following locations: 88.1% favored smoke-free playgrounds and other child play areas; 82.5% said common areas within apartments and condominiums should be smoke-free; 85.6% agreed hotel and motel common areas should be smoke-free; and, 88.7% said nursing homes and other long-term care health care facilities should be smoke-free. This same survey examined smoking rates among Californians; interestingly, since 1994, adult smoking rates have decreased much more among those aged 65+ than any other group (25.4% decrease - from 10.6% to 7.9%) and those aged 45 to 64 (13.5% decrease - from 18.5% to 16%), while younger adult age groups have either seen no decrease or an increase. For a press release from Governor Davis, which summarizes some of the survey findings, click above. For the full poll results, click here.
Smoke-Free Environments Law
The Center for Social Gerontology
2307 Shelby Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48103