New Research Initiative Examines Economic Impact of Smoke-free Policies on Restaurants and Bars

As part of ongoing efforts to reduce disease and death caused by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, the CDC Foundation and CDC have launched a new initiative to study the economic impact of smoke-free policies on restaurants and bars in nine states. Previous research shows that smoke-free policies that prohibit smoking in workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars, reduce nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke and help employees who smoke to quit. While the health benefits of smoke-free policies are clear, the perception that they might negatively affect restaurant and bar business can pose a barrier to the broader introduction and acceptance of these policies.

This initiative, made possible by a partnership grant from Pfizer to the CDC Foundation, will assess the economic impact of local smoke-free laws on restaurants and bars by examining objective economic indicators. The project will then use the results of this analysis to project the potential economic impact of statewide smoke-free policies on these establishments. The findings will be summarized in educational materials and shared with local businesses and business groups. The analysis is being conducted by researchers at RTI International in consultation with the CDC Foundation and CDC subject matter experts.  

“We deeply appreciate our ongoing partnership with Pfizer to support CDC’s work to protect us all from dangerous and expensive health threats,” says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “Each public-partnership forged through the CDC Foundation helps CDC put science into action to save lives. We believe this innovative partnership, which was made possible by Pfizer, could substantially improve health for many individuals and communities.”

“As part of Pfizer's commitment to addressing important public health needs, we are proud to partner with the CDC Foundation on this research initiative,” said Freda C. Lewis-Hall, M.D., FAPA, chief medical officer and executive vice president, Pfizer. “Our goal is to help the CDC Foundation, working with CDC and other partners, provide state and local health groups with an independent, objective assessment of the economic impact of smoke-free policies on restaurants and bars. We hope that the results of this analysis will advance efforts to reduce secondhand smoke and the serious health risks it poses to nonsmokers.” 

"Making worksites, restaurants, and bars smoke-free saves lives, increases productivity, reduces health care costs, and doesn’t hurt business," said CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "While there has been a lot of progress over the past decade, far too many Americans continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke at work and in public places, increasing their risk of heart disease and lung cancer."

The nine states included in the research initiative include Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. The economic analyses and related educational materials are scheduled for completion in the second half of 2012.

Secondhand smoke causes heart disease, including heart attacks, and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and a number of health problems in children. Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths in adult U.S. nonsmokers each year. Despite recent reductions in secondhand smoke exposure, 88 million Americans continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Smoke-free policies have been shown to reduce secondhand smoke exposure, improve the health of restaurant and bar workers, and reduce heart attack hospitalizations in the general population. Learn more at 

About the CDC Foundation

Established by Congress, the CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do more, faster, by forging public-private partnerships to support CDC’s work 24/7 to save lives and protect people from health and safety threats. The CDC Foundation manages approximately 200 CDC-led programs in the United States and in countries around the world. For more information, please visit

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