Key Researchers


Policy Brief: Clean Indoor Air

Thousands of communities across the country and more than two dozen states have passed various forms of clean indoor air laws that restrict or ban smoking in public places to reduce the harmful effect of secondhand smoke exposure. These new measures have prompted interest in learning more about whether they lead to health improvements and, also, how they may adversely affect certain businesses that have historically allowed smoking, such as hotels, bars, and restaurants. Since its inception, SAPRP has funded 25 studies addressing issues around policies targeting smoking in various places including worksites, restaurants, other public places.

Policy Implications:
In cities and states across America, the movement to restrict cigarette smoking has gained considerable momentum. The need to pass new smoke-free measures raises two fundamental questions for policymakers. First, will a ban on smoking in public places improve the health of my constituents? Second, will a ban on smoking in public places result in substantial revenue loss for restaurants, bars, and other segments of the hospitality industry? Extensive research shows that smoke-free policies lead to health improvements by dramatically reducing exposure to secondhand smoke. As for the economic impact of the smoke-free policies, the overwhelming weight of published scientific evidence shows clearly that in communities that restrict public smoking there has been no adverse effect on the hospitality economy. Policymakers pondering smoke-free regulations face other challenges as well. These include how to assure compliance and whether to allow smoking under certain conditions, such as when a bar or restaurant modifies its ventilation system to keep cigarette smoke confined to special smoking sections. The research shows most establishments and individuals willingly comply with the new laws so enforcement does not present significant concerns. The smoothest transition occurs in communities that make a strong effort to educate the public and affected business about the benefits of smoke-free regulations. Compromises such as ventilation or filtration systems have not been shown to eliminate the disease risk from secondhand smoke.


  • Consensus exists that secondhand smoke causes coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and adverse respiratory ailments in children and adults (CDC 2006 SGR Report). Some regulatory agencies have also concluded that secondhand smoke causes breast cancer in younger, primarily pre-menopausal women (Cal-EPA 2005). Read more

  • Compliance with smoke-free regulations is usually high. Launching a comprehensive and carefully planned educational effort well in advance of the implementation date facilitates compliance by providing both the public and business owners with information on the purpose of the law and how to avoid violations (Sorensen 1991; Hyland et al. 1999b; Weber et al. 2003; Skeer et al. 2004; Howell 2005). Read more

  • Once comprehensive smoke-free policies are adopted, the health benefits are immediate, both among workers and the general population. Levels of indoor air pollution decrease by about 90%, providing significant benefits to respiratory and cardiac health. Ventilation and filtration systems do not eliminate disease risk (Repace 2004, 2005; Travers 2004; Eisner et al. 1998; Farrelly et al. 2005; Allwright et al. 2005; ASHRAE 2005; Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation 2005; Stark et al. 2007; Pell et al. 2008; Hyland et al. 2008; Arheart et al. 2008; Glantz 2008). Read more

  • Smoke-free regulations can encourage people to quit smoking because they provide a social environment where there are fewer inducements to smoke (Fichtenberg and Glantz 2002; Bauer et al. 2005; Tauras 2004; Longo et al. 1996, 2001; Evans et al. 1999; Farrelly et al. 1999; Bayer and Colgrove 2002; CDC 1999; Levy et al. 2004). Read more

  • Studies show that businesses in the hospitality industry do not lose jobs or taxable revenue when smoke-free policies are implemented (Scollo et al. 2003; Hyland and Cummings 1999a, 1999b; Hyland et al. 1999a, 2003; Bartosch and Pope 1999, 2002; Frieden et al. 2005; Cowling and Bond 2005; Biener and Fitzgerald 1999). Read more




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