Smoke-free policies may help, not hinder business
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Predictions that passing smoke-free restaurant legislation would represent the economic kiss of death for the restaurant industry have proved unfounded, according to a recent study conducted at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Dr. Andrew Hyland of the University of Buffalo, told Reuters Health that he found virtually no negative effects on restaurant sales from smoking restrictions enacted in cities in New York, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Arizona and Texas.
Hyland, who presented his findings at a recent meeting of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, based his review on existing data that focused on the economic effects of implementing smoke-free policies.
According to Hyland, smoke-free restaurant ordinances not only had few adverse effects on restaurant revenues, but restaurant owners have been able to comply with the law with relative ease.
Among his other findings, Hyland noted that bar revenues in California increased by 6% 12 months after smoking was restricted in those establishments, and that consumers in New York City dined out as often after the law was implemented as before.
Hyland says much of the opposition to smoke-free policies has come from the restaurant and tobacco industries. They have argued that smoke-free ordinances would spell economic disaster for restaurant businesses by causing smokers to eat in neighboring communities or to eat out less often. The ordinances, they said, would also be difficult to enforce.
Studies evaluating consumer opinions concerning smoke-free ordinances have indicated that smokers are more likely to support the laws than oppose them.
``Even among smokers, there's a fair amount of support for the laws,'' Hyland explains. ``There's really only about 10% (of smokers) who are hard core and are opposed to smoke-free environments.'' More than 80% of nonsmokers favor smoke-free ordinances.