Restaurants will survive no smoking laws, says epidemiologist
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Restricting smoking in restaurants has not been a recipe for economic disaster in the restaurant business, despite predictions to the contrary, a review of existing data by a University at Buffalo epidemiologist has found.
In results presented last week at the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology meeting, Andrew Hyland, PhD, research assistant professor of social and preventive medicine, reported that "virtually all" published studies on the issue show no adverse effect in restaurants, hotels and bars, regardless of the study method used.
"Studies showing adverse consequences typically are flawed, relying on survey data or anecdotal reports," Dr. Hyland says. "Our analysis shows that the restaurant business remains healthy after smoke-free dining policies are implemented."
Dr. Hyland, who conducts his research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, considered published studies examining taxable sales, consumer and restaurateur surveys, restaurant-employment statistics and complaint reports.
A review of taxable sales showed no effect on sales from smoking restrictions in restaurants in dozens of communities in New York, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Texas, he found.
In addition, bar revenues in California increased 6% 12 months after smoking was restricted in those establishments, results showed.
Consumer surveys conducted in New York City at five months and 18 months after passage of the New York City Clean Air Act indicated that the majority of consumers dined out as often after the law as before.
Surveys of restaurateurs 18 months after the New York City law took effect indicated there was no relationship between reported business decreases and the law, and business owners were able to comply with the law with relative ease, Dr. Hyland found.
"Analyses of restaurant-employment statistics indicated that more restaurant jobs were added in New York City two years after the law went into effect than in the rest of New York State where smoking was still permitted," he said. "Per-capita restaurant employment in Erie County, N.Y., increased faster than in six of seven surrounding counties where smoking was permitted, 12 months after a county law went into effect.
"Furthermore, few people are complaining about the law," Dr. Hyland says. He found that the number of official complaints about smoking logged in Erie County was at the same level as before the law and there were fewer complaints logged in New York City two years after smoking was banned completely.
"Secondhand smoke is a serious public health issue," Dr. Hyland says. "Policymakers need to understand that adverse economic claims resulting from smoke-free legislation are unsubstantiated."