Aug. 1 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – One of the largest studies to date on the economic impact of smoke-free laws, published today in the scientific journal Preventing Chronic Disease, provides powerful new evidence that such laws do not harm the restaurant and bar industry, even in states with high smoking rates and a history of tobacco growing and manufacturing.
The evidence is clear that smoke-free laws protect workers and customers alike from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke without harming business. It is time for policy makers in every state and community to enact comprehensive smoke-free laws that cover all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, and protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air.
The new study analyzed economic data from 216 smoke-free cities and counties across nine states – Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. For North Carolina, the study examined the impact of a 2010 statewide smoke-free law that applies to restaurants and bars. The other eight states each have a number of communities with local smoke-free restaurant and/or bar ordinances, but no statewide smoke-free law.
The study found that smoke-free laws did not have an adverse economic impact on restaurants or bars in any of the states studied. In one state, West Virginia, the local smoke-free laws were actually associated with a small INCREASE in restaurant employment.
These findings show that the states involved in the study – and others – have nothing to fear and much to gain from enacting statewide smoke-free laws. While 30 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico now have smoke-free laws that include all restaurants and bars, too many states and communities, especially in the South and Midwest, still fail to provide such protections. It’s no coincidence that these states often have the highest rates of smoking and smoking-related death and disease. America should not be a nation of haves and have-nots when it comes to protecting our right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.
The new study’s findings are consistent with those of other studies, all of which show that smoke-free laws at worst have a neutral impact on the restaurant and bar business and may even have a positive impact. These findings highlight why the public, policy makers and media need to be leery of adverse economic claims made by opponents of smoke-free laws. These claims are discredited time and again by impartial economic data.
There is simply no excuse for failing to enact such laws in every state and community. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. According to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and respiratory problems, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, ear infections and more severe asthma attacks in infants and children. In the U.S., secondhand smoke kills about 50,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As smoke-free laws have swept the country, we’ve seen that they are easily implemented, achieve almost universal compliance and quickly improve air quality and health. States and communities should rest assured that they can protect health without harming business.
The study was conducted by RTI International and supported by the CDC Foundation. It was made possible by a partnership grant from Pfizer Inc. to the CDC Foundation.