How Big Tobacco uses and abuses the restaurant industry: New website documents manipulation of restaurant trade
TobaccoScam, a new US website, targets what it calls a 20-year, multi-million dollar effort by the tobacco industry to manipulate the restaurant industry as a political front to defeat smoke-free measures and to protect tobacco sales worldwide.
Based on once-secret tobacco industry documents and recently published medical and economic research, the TobaccoScam site (www.tobaccoscam.ucsf.edu) reveals that the tobacco industry, in an attempt to block smoke-free measures, has repeatedly made groundless claims about the economic impact of smoke-free measures and has disputed the health dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.
Polls conducted throughout the United States show that a strong majorityof diners want all restaurants to be smoke-free and where it has been done it has been popular and good for business. In Britain, 88% of adults want smoking restricted in restaurants (including 73% of smokers) and 42% of adults say they take the availability of smoke free areas into account when they decide where to go for a meal .
The TobaccoScam website quotes tobacco industry documents describing the tobacco industryâ€™s strategies to manipulate U.S. and foreign restaurant industry and hospitality associations. It also warns against the tobacco industryâ€™s attempts to promote expensive new ventilation systems and restaurant remodels to accommodate smokers, a â€œpolitical strategyâ€ that costs restaurant owners much more than simply going smoke-free. TobaccoScam offers access to authoritative health and economic studies, many available in their entirety for the first time online, and lists front groups and ventilation consultants connected with the tobacco industry. On the website, restaurant owners speak out about the benefits of a smoke-free eating place and the tobacco industry tactics to discourage them.
According to the organiser of the new site, Professor Stanton Glantz of University of California at San Francisco â€œEvery reliable economic study finds going smoke-free has no effect on restaurant business -- and it protects the public health."
Clive Bates of ASH in London said: â€œYou can see exactly the same happening here in Britain. Most of the time the hospitality trade associations are acting in the interests of the tobacco industry rather than in the interests of their members. People that own, manage or work in restaurants are being fed a line about smoking that is just not true, but the public mostly wants to eat and socialise without breathing other peopleâ€™s smoke.â€
ASH directed particular criticism at â€˜Atmosphere Improves Resultsâ€™ (AIR), which is a trade initiative promoting ventilation. AIR is mainly funded by the tobacco industry. Clive Bates said: â€œThe British hospitality trade, despite its enormous wealth, relies on tobacco industry money for its main initiative on passive smoking and, not surprisingly, they are favouring strategies like ventilation that suit the tobacco industry but cost restaurant owners a lot more money.â€