Smoke-free rules may be good news for business

study also showed that, overall, the annual payrolls in dining and lodging establishments in the counties increased following the implementation of smoke-free regulations, even after adjusting for inflation.Other, more-neutral, but certainly not negative, findings: Of the 25 county-specific statistical tests conducted, seven were associated with increased business following smoke-free regulations, 15 showed no association and three were associated with decreased business. No association was observed between smoke-free regulations and restaurant and hotel employment levels. In addition, the number of restaurants and hotels in the counties studied typically remained constant or decreased slightly.

"Our results, consistent with several previously published reports in peer-reviewed scientific journals, conclude that smoke-free regulations do not cause declines in sales and employment in the hospitality industry," noted Hyland. "More importantly, smoke-free regulations reduce exposure of workers and patrons to secondhand smoke and are good for public health."

Indeed, the impetus for the study arose from the concern that hospitality workers in environments where smoking is permitted experience substantial exposure to secondhand smoke and that they are at considerable risk for lung cancer -- a finding shown in earlier studies by other researchers. Such risks inevitably cost the state's health system, and taxpayers, money, while alleviating the risks is likely to save money.

The jurisdictions studied by the researchers were chosen because 12 months of data were available after the counties adopted smoke-free regulations that require 100 percent smoke-free dining areas and prohibited smoking in restaurants unless the areas had separate ventilation systems. Data sources included restaurants' and hotels' New York state taxable sales and employment records. Sales figures were adjusted for inflation to 2002 dollars.

The study's co-authors were Vanaja Puli,

Contact: Linda Myers
Cornell University News Service

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