The University of Cape Town (UCT) have conducted a study to find out if South Africans are ready for the ban of smoking in public areas which was announced by South Africa’s Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi.
At the World Conference on Tobacco or Health held in Cape Town recently, Motsoaledi announced a 100% ban on smoking in public areas.
This means that the dedicated smoking areas in restaurants and other hospitality establishments will no longer be available.
The study found that most restaurant owners and managers are supporting a complete ban on smoking in restaurants.
Megan Little, a researcher in the Economics of Tobacco Control Project (ETCP) and Professor Corné van Walbeek, director of the ETCP, embarked on a study to analyse the smoking policies of restaurants, whether and how these policies have changed over the past decade and restaurateurs’ attitudes to the proposed legislative changes.
More than 750 restaurants across all South Africa were interviewed for the study.
“Whereas there was massive push back from the hospitality and tobacco industries some 20 years ago when the idea of a complete ban on smoking in hospitality establishments was first floated, attitudes appear to have changed today. We found that the majority of restaurant owners and managers support the proposed amendment that would ban smoking in restaurants completely", said Little.
A noticeable number of restaurants are already voluntarily instituting a complete ban on smoking regardless of the current regulation’s more lenient stance on smoking.
According to the study, 45% of restaurants have no smoking areas at all.
In franchise establishments, 57% of franchisers do not allow their restaurants to have smoking areas at all.
Meanwhile, 44% of restaurants have smoking areas outside. Just 11% of restaurants have smoking areas inside.
There is a clear distinction in preference between South Africa’s rural and urban provinces.
Restaurants with inside smoking areas tend to be in small towns and rural provinces.
Non-smoking restaurants, or restaurants with outside smoking areas, are prevalent in provinces with large urban populations.
“There’s been a shift for the better in restaurants’ smoking policies in the past decade. Businesses all over the world respond to consumer preferences and the hospitality industry is no different", said Van Walbeek.
The study found that 23% of restaurants have changed their smoking policies in the last 10 years, with the majority relocating their smoking sections outside or banning smoking completely.
“The fact that restaurants voluntarily adjusted their smoking policies in the past decade, in some cases taking a tougher stance than the law requires, is indicative of the healthier lifestyle demands of urban restaurant patrons. This suggests that a significant number of South Africans are ready for the ban on restaurant smoking,” concludes Van Walbeek.