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.
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.