When communities have either gone smoke-free or entertained the idea of going smoke-free, there is an unfounded concern about what the law will do to the local economy. The tobacco industry has orchestrated a well-funded campaign to deceive the public, business owners, and policy makers about the economic impact of smoke-free laws. Smoke-free laws are designed to protect the health of residents, visitors, and workers. The only business that loses is the tobacco business. Economic studies of smoke-free policies enacted in Colorado and throughout the country indicate that revenues remain stable. In addition, once secret tobacco industry documents expose the real reasons why big tobacco opposes smoke-free laws that protect people from secondhand smoke.


Studies of sales tax data from 81 localities in six states consistently demonstrated that ordinances restricting smoking in restaurants had no negative effect on revenues. (Glantz, S “Smoke-free Restaurant Ordinances Do Not Affect Restaurant Business. Period.” Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, January 1999) Vol. 5. No. 1.)


Studies of sales tax data from Aspen, Snowmass and Telluride have demonstrated that smoke-free ordinances in restaurants had no negative effect on revenues. (Glantz, S “Smoke-free Restaurant Ordinances Do Not Affect Restaurant Business. Period.” Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, January 1999 Vol. 5. No. 1. Additional sales tax data from the Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP) shows that the smoke-free ordinance in Boulder, CO also had no negative impact on sales.


A systematic statewide comparison of 239 communities in Massachusetts revealed that local smoking ordinances do not harm businesses. Taxable meals receipts data was collected for over 1,000 restaurants between 1992-1998. Contrary to predictions from opponents, researchers found that restaurant sales in towns with strong smoking ordinances experienced a slightly faster rate of growth than restaurant sales in towns without such restrictions. (Bartosch, William, Pope, and Gregory, The economic effect of restaurant smoking restrictions on restaurant business in Massachusetts 1992-1998: Final Report, Center for Health Economics Research, submitted to Massachusetts Department of Health, November 27, 2000)


Using four different methods of analysis, the study compared Flagstaff restaurant and retail sales with sales in two similar Arizona cities, three counties, and the entire state of Arizona. The study found that Flagstaff’s smoke-free restaurant ordinance had no adverse effect on restaurant sales, as measured by tax data from January 1, 1990 (3.5 years before the enactment of the smoke-free ordinance) to December 31, 1994 (1.5 years after enactment). (Sciacca and Ratliff, “Prohibiting Smoking in Restaurants: Effects on Restaurant Sales,” American Journal of Health Promotion, 12(3): 176-184, January/February 1998.) TEXAS

“Despite the fears of many restaurant owners, anti-smoking laws don’t appear to be bad for business, according to a study of four Texas cities with some of the strictest rules in the state about lighting up while eating out. Researchers from the Texas Department of Health used tax data to track sales in Plano, Arlington, Wichita Falls and Austin before and after smoking rules went into effect. Total restaurant sales generally continued to climb in all four cities.” (Smoking Laws No Drag on Profits – After ordinances, restaurant sales still climbing, study says by Laura Bell, Dallas Morning News, 4/25/02 reporting on “Impact of Clean Indoor Air Ordinances on Restaurant Revenues in Four Texas Cities”, Texas Dept. of Health, March 21, 2000).


A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found smoke-free ordinances had no negative impact on tourism. The three-state, six-city analysis systematically examined tourist volume in a number of localities before and after smoke-free ordinances were enacted. The research focused on tourism in California, Utah and Vermont as well as in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boulder, Flagstaff and Mesa, Arizona. In terms of international tourism, California experienced an increase in tourists from Japan, and New York City logged a similar increase in European visitors after their smoke-free ordinances were in place, dispelling the claim that international tourism would suffer. The Utah data showed no significant change either way. (Glantz, Stan and Charles Worth, Anne Marie, “Tourism and Hotel Revenues Before and After Passage of Smoke-Free Restaurant Ordinances,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 281:1911-1918, 1999.)


The following quotes from once-secret internal tobacco industry documents became available to the public as part of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998.

  • “The financial impact of smoking bans on our industry will be tremendous – three to five fewer cigarettes per day per smoker will reduce annual manufacturer profits a billion dollars plus per year.” (A Smokers Alliance Draft, Philip Morris Internal Document. Bates Nos. 20225771934-2025771937)
  • “Also, the economic arguments often used by the industry to scare off smoking ban activity were no longer working, if indeed they ever did. These arguments simply had no credibility with the public, which isn’t surprising when you consider that our dire predictions rarely came true.” (David Laufer, Philip Morris Quoted in “Draft 7/8/94 CAC Presentation #4”, Bates nos. 2041183751-2041183790)
  • “Total prohibition of smoking in the workplace strongly affects industry volume. Smokers facing these restrictions consume 11% – 15% less than average and quit at a rate that is 84% higher than average. Only 6.4% – 10.3% of smokers face total workplace prohibition but these restrictions are rapidly becoming more common.” (Quoted in: Heironimus, J., “Impact of workplace restrictions on consumption and incidence,” Philip Morris internal memo. Bates No. 2045447770-2045447806, January 21, 1992.)
  • “Currently 47 states have some form of smoking restrictions. Smoking is restricted in private workplaces in 19 states; 28 states restrict smoking in restaurants. This year alone 18 states and 269 localities passed smoking restrictions. Measures are still pending in 6 states and 165 localities. Smoking restrictions have been estimated, this year alone, to have decreased PM profits by $40 million.” (Quoted in: “Corporate Affairs 1994 Budget Presentation.” Philip Morris internal document. Bates Nos. 2045521070 – 2045521111, October 21, 1993.)