Restaurants and hotels
(in New York at least) that go smoke free will not lose dollars by doing so –
contrary to popular beliefs – and some may even gain revenues, according
to a new study published in a Cornell University journal this month. State
taxpayers and hospitality industry employees may also be beneficiaries, the
The study, “New York’s Smoke-free Regulations: Effects on Employment
and Sales in the Hospitality Industry,” shows that smoke-free regulations
were not associated with adverse economic outcomes in New York restaurants and hotels. Published in the June 2003 issue of the Cornell Hotel
and Restaurant Administration Quarterly.
The study’s lead author, cancer research scientist Andrew Hyland, said:
“This study demonstrates that business managers need not fear loss of patronage by going smoke free and should welcome the opportunity to
protect the health of their workers and patrons.”
Hyland is associated with the Department of Cancer Prevention and
Population Sciences at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in Buffalo, N.Y.,
and two co-authors are also Roswell affiliates.
Hyland and his co-authors assessed changes in taxable sales and
employment in restaurants and hotels in five locations in New York state that
have implemented smoke-free dining regulations since 1995. They evaluated
data from jurisdictions that represent 63 percent of the state’s population:
Erie, Monroe, Suffolk and Westchester counties and New York City’s five
boroughs, which the researchers treated as a single jurisdiction.
The most positive finding, for restaurateurs, the state and taxpayers: The
smoke-free regulations were associated with statistically significant increases in eating and drinking and hotel taxable sales in the counties. The
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
“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 may be at considerable risk
of lung cancer. 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
The study’s co-authors were Vanaja Puli, research affiliate at Roswell;
Michael Cummings, chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell,
and Russ Sciandra, director at the Center for a Tobacco-Free New York. The
study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New York State Department of Health.
The study’s publisher, the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration
Quarterly, is produced by The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell’s
School of Hotel Administration.