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What the Tobacco Industry Wants You to Believe

Speaking Points

Many scientific studies demonstrate that smokefree ordinances do not harm business.78

Studies cited by the tobacco industry to “prove” economic harm caused by smokefree ordinances have relied on anecdotal information, non-random surveys, or carefully selected quarters of sales tax data.  Such “studies” give a false impression of a decline in sales.79 80 81

The tobacco industry and its allies have vehemently attacked the work of medical and public health researchers.  One notable example is the attack leveled against Stanton Glantz, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco, by the National Smokers’ Alliance.  The NSA has harassed him, his university, and journals that publish his work.  It commissioned a review of his widely disseminated study on the economic impact of smokefree restaurant ordinances in an effort to impugn his scientific integrity.  In response, the American Journal of Public Health issued an editorial sharply critical of NSA tactics, while reaffirming Glantz’ contributions as “sound and valid.”82  

Independent studies have found high levels of compliance with local ordinances.  Most ordinances are enforced on a complaint basis alone, and citations rarely need to be issued.

Most businesses, and most smokers, are law abiding and will adhere to the ordinance’s provisions as long as they are aware of them.  The main enforcement activity is public education to ensure that businesses and the general public are aware of the ordinance’s requirements.83

78 Goebel, K. & Hobart, R.  Clean Indoor Air:  A Guide to Developing Policy.  Rockville, MD:  National Cancer Institute, ASSIST, June 1994.

79 Ibid.

80 Self-serving surveys:  The 30% myth.  Consumer Reports, 320, May 1994.

81 San Jose Mercury News Editorials.  Smokescreen.  San Jose Mercury News, June 1, 1992

82 Susser, M.  Editorial:  Goliath and Some Davids in the Tobacco Wars.  American Journal of Public Health 87:1593-1594, 1997.

83 Clearing the Air: A guide to passing clean indoor air ordinances. Berkeley: CA: Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, 2000.

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