Dear Restaurant Owner or Manager

I am writing you because my friends, family and I like your restaurant. We like your food and the service you provide. Yet we are sad that you and your management team are not fully informed about the dangers to workers and patrons because of second-hand cigarette smoke.

Second-hand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing an estimated 70,000 nonsmokers every year. Food service workers appear to be 50% more likely than the general population to develop lung cancer -- largely because many of them are exposed to second-hand smoke on the job. Teen workers are more likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke on the job than any other employee age cohort.

Second-hand smoke contains over 4,700 chemicals, over 200 poisons and over 50 human carcinogens. The poisons in cigarette smoke include carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and methyl isocyanate. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke include benzo[a]pyrene and NNK, which cause lung cancer; nitrosamines, which cause cancer of the lung, respiratory system, and other organs; aromatic amines, which cause bladder and breast cancer; formaldehyde, which causes nasal cancer; and benzene, which causes leukemia.

I'm not sure that you are aware that studies show that smoking bans in restaurants in New York City and Massachusetts have not witnessed negative effects to overall sales. These studies were recently published in the January 1999 issue of the JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT AND PRACTICE.

This research shows that contrary to the fears of many restaurant owners, bans on smoking have actually resulted in increased business and revenue. The studies also demonstrate that although some smoking customers did refrain from patronizing the restaurants, overall business increased because nonsmokers dined more frequently.

In another study, the restaurant management found that the ban on smoking reduced the number of people who came in just to have a cup of coffee and a smoke. Smoking patrons stayed longer and purchased less, on average, when compared to nonsmoking customers. With the ban on smoking, the restaurant found both an increase in table turnover and an increase in total purchases by their customers. The result was an increase in overall revenue for the business.

Many restaurants have tried separating smokers and nonsmokers, but this rarely works. Having a separate section for smoking does not eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke. You can't put chlorine in half a swimming pool and you can't keep smoke in half a restaurant.

It makes sense to ban smoking in your restaurant. While you protect the health of both your workers and customers, you are rewarded with higher revenues. In general, smokers respect such decisions. Most smokers wish they could quit. Maybe your change in policy will help them.

Thank you for your time and the consideration about the health of your workers and customers.