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Opinion Surveys

Public attitudes to smoking in public places MRUK omnibus survey October 2006 main findings. i

Sample Profile

  1. Similar to previous waves, 1,040 interviews were conducted in October 2006. This was the final wave of a series of omnibus surveys conducted in May, August and November of 2005 and January, March and May 2006. This research tracked public opinion prior to and following the ban on smoking in enclosed public places.
  2. For each wave, interviews were conducted across 52 constituency based sampling points selected to be geographically representative of the Scottish population. The sample was split evenly across male and female respondents and a took spread of ages, making it broadly in line with the population in Scotland. Just under half of the interviews were undertaken with respondents in socio-economic groups AB and C1, with the remainder from C2DE socio economic groupings.
  3. In October 2006 a third of the sample were current smokers (34%), 45% were non-smokers and 21% said they used to smoke but had now stopped.

  4. Key findings

  5. Support for the smoking ban: Support for the smoke-free legislation increased to 70% in October 2006; between August 2005 and May 2006 support for the law was consistently between 58% and 61%. Non-smokers and ex-smokers were more likely to support the ban across the research. In October 2006 91% of non-smokers and 80% of ex smokers were in support of the legislation. However, increase in support has been particularly marked amongst smokers, with 37% of smokers supporting the legislation in October 2006 (support among this group ranged between 19% and 33% in previous 6 waves).
  6. Awareness of smoking ban: Awareness of the ban has been high throughout the research, growing from 95% prior to the ban (March 2006) to virtually all respondents in October 2006 (99%).
  7. Success of smoking ban: Between May and October 2006 there was an increase (from 73% to 77%) in the proportion of respondents who thought the legislation had been successful in making enclosed public places smoke free. Non-smokers and ex-smokers were more likely to consider the ban successful compared to smokers (80% and 71% respectively). However, the proportion of respondents who thought the legislation was unsuccessful dropped from 10% to 5% between May and October 2006.

  8. Summary of main findings

    Support for the smoking ban
  9. Support for the ban was attributed to a variety of factors including the cleaner air / environment (18%) and a dislike of smoking (16%). Health reasons were also considered a factor influencing respondents’ support of the ban, although this reason has become less prominent over recent waves (12% in October 2006, 31% in August 2005 and 33% in May 2005).
  10. In October 2006, 23% of respondents (predominantly smokers) did not support the legislation. The main reasons identified for not supporting the ban were that they enjoyed smoking (23%) or because they/their partner smoked (16%). These reasons have been reiterated throughout the research findings. However, a notable difference across the research was the reduction in the proportion of respondents stating that smokers have the right to smoke in public places (39% in May 2005; 3% in October 2006).

  11. Perceived impact of the legislation

  12. In each wave of research, respondents anticipated that the new legislation would impact on them in a variety of ways and would generally have a positive impact on their lives. For instance, 18% said the smoking ban would be better for people’s health, while 12% said socialising would be more enjoyable as a result of the ban and 11% thought the ban would make environments safer and cleaner.
  13. Similar to previous waves, non-smokers and ex-smokers were more inclined to perceive the ban on smoking to be better for health (23% and 24% respectively), compared to smokers (7%).

  14. Perceived success of the legislation

  15. Success of the ban was largely ascribed to the following: cleaner environment in pubs, clubs and restaurants (15%); most people were seen to be abiding by the legislation (13%); and all public places are smoke free (20%).
  16. A higher proportion of those who considered the ban unsuccessful perceived there to be a detrimental impact on employment and revenue as a result of the ban (33% in October 2006, compared to 19% in May 2006). There was also an increase in the proportion who objected to smoking outside in October (20%) compared to May 2006 (2%), perhaps reflecting seasonal factors. Among this group, a less prominent perception was that the ban stopped people going out (4% in October 2006; 20% in May 2006).

  17. Perceived impact on smoking behaviour: Smokers only
  18. Across the waves of research, the majority of respondents who smoked thought the legislation would have no effect on the amount they smoke (69% in October 2006). In October 2006, 29% said the ban had helped them reduce the amount they smoke; this proportion has decreased slightly since May 2006 (35%). The figure for anticipated smoking reduction has varied throughout the research from 27% in November 2005 to 40% in March 2006.
  19. The majority of ex-smokers said the ban had not influenced them to give up smoking (93% in October 2006), with only 5% saying that the ban had some degree of influence on them. It is important to note that some ex-smokers may have stopped smoking prior to the ban.

  20. Attitudes to the risks of passive smoking
  21. Throughout the seven waves of research, the majority of respondents have consistently agreed that action should be taken to reduce people’s exposure to passive smoking/second hand smoke (73% in October 2006).

  22. Household smoking policy
  23. Broadly consistent with recent waves of research, half of respondents said smoking was not permitted anywhere in the home. Across the surveys, the findings highlight that those in socio-economic group AB (57%) are significantly more likely to not allow smoking in the home compared to those from group E (29%).
  24. A quarter of respondents (26%) said smoking was permitted throughout their home. This figure has varied across the waves, ranging between 24% (March 2006) and 33% (November 2005). In October 2006, 23% of respondents said smoking was allowed in certain rooms; this figure is broadly consistent with previous survey findings.

  25. Workplace smoking policy

  26. 46% of those respondents in employment reported that smoking was not permitted anywhere on their work premises, lower than in May 2006 (67%). However, a higher proportion reported that there were designated areas outside the premises (49% in October 2006 compared to 30% in May 2006).

i Following the March wave of the survey, there were a number of changes to the survey questions to reflect the implementation of the smoking ban.

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