The Impact of Smoke-free Policies on Restaurants and Bars


Scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke. Fully protecting nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke means completely eliminating smoking in indoor spaces. Efforts to separate smokers from nonsmokers, clean the air, and ventilate buildings cannot eliminate exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.

Research shows that smoke-free policies reduce nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke. 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.

About the Initiative

Reducing disease and death caused by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure is a major priority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As part of ongoing efforts to support CDC’s mission, the CDC Foundation, with CDC expertise, launched an initiative to provide restaurant and bar owners with scientific and experiential information on the impact of smoke-free policies on the hospitality industry. The initiative is designed to increase restaurant and bar owners’ understanding of the benefits of smoke-free policies.

No SmokingThe effort is focused on nine states – Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia*. These states were chosen because they have high rates of smoking and smoking-related disease; they lack substantial statewide smoking restrictions; and they have a number of communities with strong local smoke-free laws.**

This initiative consists of two main components:

1. The first is a study projecting the anticipated economic impact of a statewide smoke-free policy on restaurants and bars. This study examines objective economic indicators of the impact of local smoke-free laws already adopted in each of the nine states. The analysis was conducted by researchers at RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute, in consultation with CDC subject matter experts. The study was released August 1, 2013. View Journal Article

2. The second is state-specific videos featuring local restaurant and bar owners talking about their experiences operating under smoke-free laws.

* West Virginia is included in the economic analysis but does not have a video. 
** The one exception to the last two criteria is North Carolina, which has a state law requiring restaurants and bars to be smoke-free.

Business Has Never Been Healthier - Videos

Kentucky Indiana
North Carolina Mississippi
Missouri Texas
Alabama South Carolina
This initiative is supported by a partnership grant from Pfizer Inc to the CDC Foundation.

For more information, contact the CDC Foundation.