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Smoke-free regulations may be good news study in Cornell journal shows

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com 30 June 2003

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 study reveals.

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 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 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 dollars.

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.

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