Background: Italy was the first large country that has banned smoking in all indoor public places, including restaurants and bars. The aim of this study was to quantify, 3 years after the law came into force, the effects of the smoking ban in terms of observance of the legislation and change of habits.
Methods: We considered data from 4 representative surveys on smoking, conducted between 2005 and 2008 on a total of 12,245 individuals (5,906 men and 6,339 women) aged 15 years or over.
Results: In 2008, more than 80% of Italians (more than 90% in northern Italy) had the perception that the smoking ban was respected in bars/cafes and restaurants, despite a slight reduction since 2005. In all the surveys combined, 75% of the Italian population reported that the smoking ban was respected in workplaces. Overall, approximately 10% of Italians reported that, after the implementation of the tobacco regulation, they went to bars/cafes and restaurants more frequently, and approximately 7% less frequently, than before.
Conclusion: Our study shows that in Italy the smoke-free legislation did not affect the business of restaurants and bars, and remain widely respected also 3 years after the law came into force.