The Impact of Smoke-Free Policies on Restaurants and BarsPosted on by
In 2006, the US Surgeon General concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Fully protecting nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke means completely eliminating smoking in indoor spaces.
Smoke-free policies reduce nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke and improve health. While the health benefits of smoke-free policies are well documented, the perception that they might negatively affect restaurant and bar business can pose a barrier to the broader introduction and acceptance of these policies.
However, research continually shows that this is not the case. In 2006, the US Surgeon General also concluded that “evidence from peer-reviewed studies shows that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry.”
Studies at the international, state, and local level consistently reiterate this conclusion. In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer conducted a comprehensive review of 97 studies from 8 countries on the economic impact of smoke-free policies and found that studies consistently conclude that smoke-free policies do not harm business. In the United States, for example, the largest analysis of the impact of local smoke-free ordinances examined 9 states (Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia) and found that smoke-free laws do not have a negative impact on either employment or sales in restaurants and bars.
In fact, in some cases, smoke-free policies produce positive effects for local businesses. For example, just 1 year after New York City’s smoke-free law was implemented, restaurant and bar revenues in the city increased by 8.7% in less than a year.
For more information from CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, visit http://1.usa.gov/1KcRaEM.
By Brian King, PhD, MPH Acting Deputy Director for Research Translation Office on Smoking and Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention