Economic Impact of Smoke-Free Laws

After more than 20 years of real-world experience with smoke-free laws, there is ample and compelling evidence that they do not have adverse economic consequences for business, including the hospitality industry.


Impact on restaurants

There is also newer evidence that smoke-free laws can increase the profitability and value of restaurants. A comprehensive review of economic impact research found that well-designed studies report no impact or a positive impact on sales or employment, and the 2006 Surgeon General's Report concluded that “ smoke-free policies and regulations do not have a negative impact on business revenues.”

The first major study of the impact of smoke-free restaurant ordinances on revenues, in 1994, found that smoke-free ordinances do not affect restaurant sales. A follow-up study in 1997 examined fifteen additional communities and came to the same conclusion. An evaluation of New York City 's smoke-free restaurant ordinance in 1999, using data on both sales and employment, found no adverse economic impact. Many other well-done economic impact studies, examining a diverse range of communities from Flagstaff, Arizona, to Hennepin County, Minnesota, have found no negative economic impact on restaurant revenues.


Impact on bars

Although there is less research focused on smoke-free bars than on smoke-free restaurants, well-done studies on the impact of smoke-free bar laws have found no economic impact. A 1997 study examining smoke-free bar provisions in five cities and two counties found that, like smoke-free restaurant ordinances, smoke-free bar laws do not affect revenues.


Impact on tourism

There is also growing evidence that smoke-free laws do not harm, and may benefit, the tourism industry in general. A study of the impact of New York 's Clean Indoor Air law in five communities, including New York City , found that smoke-free regulations were associated with increases in sales for restaurants, bars and hotels. A study in California, including both San Francisco and Los Angeles, found that restaurants, bars, hotels and tourism were not impacted economically following implementation of a state smoke-free workplace and restaurant law. Another study comparing hotel revenues and tourism rates before and after passage of 100 percent smoke-free restaurant laws in three states and six cities found that such laws do not adversely affect, and may increase, tourism.


Downloadable report

Learn more about this issue by downloading The Economic Impact of Smoke-free Laws.