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Economic Impact of Smokefree Restaurant Ordinances

Speaking Points

These and other well-controlled studies examined a wide variety of city types located in several states:  affluent urban, middle-class bedroom, large city and state capital, college town, large suburban, tourist destination, and rural agricultural.

The cities of Bellflower and Beverly Hills, California, repealed their smokefree restaurant ordinances following opposition organized by the tobacco industry.  Researchers found that restaurant sales tax revenues did not decrease in either city while the bans were in effect, and sales did not increase after the bans were repealed.84 85 86

Use the following guidelines to assess the reliability of an economic impact study’s findings:  

1)  Anecdotal information and non-random surveys are unreliable sources of information.  Sales tax data reported to the appropriate state agency reflect all restaurant sales in the community, not a small sample of restaurants.  Furthermore, sales tax data reported is objective and accurate (it is a crime to misreport receipts).87  

2)  Analysis of sales tax data should include data for several years before and for all quarters after enactment of the ordinance, and should control for seasonal and annual variations in the restaurant economy, as well as fluctuations in the general economy.88

84 Hinderliter, de Llamas and Associates, Glendora, CA: November 8, 1991

85 Glantz, S.A. &  Smith, L.  The effect of ordinances requiring smoke-free restaurants on restaurant sales.  American Journal of Public Health 84:1081-1085, 1994.

86 The 30 Percent Myth. Consumer Reports, p. 320, May 1994.

87 Glantz, S.A. The Dunham and Marlowe “Studies” on Smokefree Restaurants Laws. Unpublished, August 23, 2000.

88 What To Look For In An Economic Impact Study. Berkeley, CA: October 15, 1998.

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