Implementation of a workplace smoking ban in bars: the limits of local discretion

Witt, Claudia M.; L├╝dtke, Rainer; Mengler, Nils; Willich, Stefan N.
January 2008
BMC Public Health;2008, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p402
Academic Journal
Background: In January 1998, the California state legislature extended a workplace smoking ban to bars. The purpose of this study was to explore the conditions that facilitate or hinder compliance with a smoking ban in bars. Methods: We studied the implementation of the smoking ban in bars by interviewing three sets of policy participants: bar employers responsible for complying with the law; local government officials responsible for enforcing the law; and tobacco control activists who facilitated implementation. We transcribed the interviews and did a qualitative analysis of the text. Results: The conditions that facilitated bar owners' compliance with a smoking ban in bars included: if the cost to comply was minimal; if the bars with which they were in competition were in compliance with the smoking ban; and if there was authoritative, consistent, coordinated, and uniform enforcement. Conversely, the conditions that hindered compliance included: if the law had minimal sanctions; if competing bars in the area allowed smoking; and if enforcement was delayed or inadequate. Conclusion: Many local enforcers wished to forfeit their local discretion and believed the workplace smoking ban in bars would be best implemented by a state agency. The potential implication of this study is that, given the complex nature of local politics, smoking bans in bars are best implemented at a broader provincial or national level.


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