Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Observations from behind the bar: changing patrons' behaviours in response to smoke-free legislation in Scotland

Shona Hilton2*, Jane Cameron1, Alice MacLean1 and Mark Petticrew3

Author Affiliations

1 MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow, UK

2 Department of Environmental & Occupational Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK

3 Public and Environmental Health research Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, WC1E 7HT, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2008, 8:238  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-238

Published: 14 July 2008

Abstract

Background

"Smoke-Free" legislation prohibiting smoking in all enclosed public places was introduced in March 2006. This qualitative study presents insights from bar workers about their observations of the changing social bar environment, changing patrons' behaviours and challenges bar workers have faced in managing smoke-free legislation.

Methods

Twelve in-depth interviews were conducted between November 2006 and January 2007 with a purposively-selected sample of bar workers, identified from a larger quantitative study evaluating the impact of the legislation in Scotland [the Bar Workers' Health and Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure project (BHETSE)].

Results

Bar workers all spoke of the improvements the legislation had brought to their working lives and the greater comfort it appeared to offer patrons. Bar workers reported that patrons were generally quick to accept and comply with the new law, and that families had become a greater feature of pub life since the legislation. However, they expressed concerns that older men seemed to have had most difficulty adjusting to the legislation and lack of knowledge about the best practices they should adopt in order to reduce the risks of unattended drinks being spiked and of anti-social behaviour associated with patrons moving outside to smoke.

Conclusion

Smoke-free legislation is changing the social context of smoking in Scotland. Further research to assess the impact the legislation is having on older male smokers and on the incidence of drink spiking would be useful. More specifically, bar workers would benefit from guidance on how to manage issues arising from patrons moving outside to smoke.