Going Smoke-Free Won't Hurt Business

Going smoke-free won't hurt your bottom line.A new study found that statewide smoke-free laws would not be expected to have a negative economic impact on restaurant and bar business in the states reviewed. The study, released today in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, was conducted by RTI International in nine states.

The study found no negative effect on restaurant or bar employment or sales revenues in any of the states included in the study. Eight of the nine states — Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia — were selected because they have high rates of smoking and smoking-related disease, lack comprehensive statewide smoke-free laws, have enough local smoke-free laws to allow for an aggregate analysis, and are located in or adjacent to the Southeast. North Carolina was the only state examined with an existing statewide smoke-free law in restaurants and bars.

This study provides restaurant and bar proprietors with additional evidence showing that they can provide their employees and patrons with healthier environments without affecting their bottom lines. Previous research has shown that comprehensive smoke-free laws improve the health of restaurant and bar workers, reduce heart attack hospitalizations in the general population, encourage smokers to quit, and reduce healthcare costs.

States and communities throughout the United States have made great strides in protecting workers and the public from secondhand smoke over the past 20 years; however, 88 million Americans continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths in adult U.S. nonsmokers each year. Comprehensive smoke-free laws have the potential to positively impact the health of millions of Americans who work in or patronize restaurants and bars.

This research was suggested by the CDC and made possible by a partnership grant from Pfizer Inc. to the CDC Foundation. RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute, conducted the study under contract from the CDC Foundation. For more information about this initiative, visit CDC Foundation’s smoke-free page or read the press release.

Rachna Chandora, MPH, is associate vice president for the noninfectious disease programs for the CDC Foundation.