Smoke-free air laws have gained popularity in the United States in recent years. The tobacco industry fought the laws with scare tactics of doom and gloom, reports of businesses closing and the revenues of bars and restaurants being stubbed out, so to speak. The industry has even footed the bill for business owners to sue over smoking bans. Opponents, the smokers affected by the laws, claim it is a violation of their legal rights to smoke wherever and whenever they want. Proponents applaud the laws as a win for the health of workers, non-smokers and children who had no choice whether someone smoked around them.
Currently there are 26 states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released a report that the U.S. could see all states become smoke-free by 2020. The tobacco industry continues to push their scare tactics of lost revenue on business yet once the smoke clears, their figures don’t add up. Case studies of the economic impact from various states show they are benefiting from the cleaner air.
In 2003 a smoke-free law went into effect in Florida prohibiting smoking in all all public places and restaurants. A 2004 report found restaurant sales were up 7% after the first year. New York City saw tax receipts up 12% since their 2003 laws. In Delaware, a year after their smoking ban, gaming revenue increased by 3%. The number of individuals employed as well as the number of restaurant, tavern and taproom licenses also increased. Massachusetts’ law went into effect in 2004 and
Michigan’s smoking ban took effect in May, 2010 and since that time total tax collections of taverns with beer/wine only, night clubs, family restaurants and cafeterias, fast food, pizza and lunch counters increased from 2.73% to 2.84% in the months after the ban took effect. The smoke-free laws have little to no economic impact. The state also saw a 6.9% decrease in cigarette sales from June to October 2010 as compared with the same time period in 2009. The smoking ban has been very popular with more people are going to bars and restaurants now that they are smoke-free.
You can manipulate smoking data all you want, but one thing is clear: there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Enacting laws banning smoking in public places helps to eliminate exposure to this toxic substance and protects the health of everyone involved. That’s the bottom line.