Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Lungs

Restaurant Smoking Bans Do Not Hurt Tourism

Smoking bans in restaurants do not hurt tourism, and may actually increase business, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

The study, published in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (JAMA), examined hotel revenues, comparing figures before and after smoking bans were enacted, in three states and six cities.

The researchers looked at hotel revenue in California, Utah and Vermont, and the cities of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mesa and Flagstaff, AZ, and Boulder, CO. In each location, the tobacco industry and opponents of the bans claimed that tourism would suffer as a result of the restaurant smoking bans.

Hotel revenue actually jumped in half of the locations after the bans were enacted. "Before many of these laws were passed, there were very specific predictions of catastrophe voiced all over the country by the tobacco industry and their toadies," said Stan Glantz, the UCSF professor who conducted the study. "Those dire warnings simply were not true."

The study also shows that international tourism rose in California and New York City.

Thomas Humber, president of the National Smokers Alliance (NSA), said the study is "an advocacy piece masquerading as research" and that it used "too broad an ax, too broad a methodology to understand what is going on in very specific circumstances."

Glantz argues that the study shows that the dire predictions of the industry and its front groups were unfounded. "At some point people are going to stop believing the industry since every claim they've made about smoking laws has been proven wrong," Glantz said.

Glantz adds further that the main criticism raised by the tobacco industry -- through the NSA -- is that the only reason they found increasing tourism revenues is that business was going up anyway. Glantz provides two responses to this:

1. They controlled for the health of the underlying economy and the tourist economy in particular.
2. The criticism begs the question: The industry claimed that the ordinances would make tourism go DOWN. It never did. They are now arguing about whether the ordinances affected how fast tourism was going up.

Related Articles:
  Smoking Ban's Effect on Tourism Studied
  Tobacco Foe Studied Hotel Revenues

"No Change In Tourism After Passage Of Smoke-Free Restaurant Laws," JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, May 26, 1999, p. 1911;
Eric Bailey, "Smoking Ban's Effect On Tourism Studied," LOS ANGELES TIMES (on-line), May 26, 1999;
Tracy Boutelle, "Study: Smoke Ban Won't Hurt Tourism," ASSOCIATED PRESS, May 25, 1999;
"Smoke-Free And The Bottom Line," WASHINGTON POST, May 26, 1999, p. A9.


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