N.Y.'s Smoke-Free Restaurant Law Doesn't Hurt Business, Wins Wide Support, Study Finds

Assessment of the effects of New York City's smoke-free restaurant law on sales and consumer attitudes and behavior

From 1996 to 1999, K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH, and a team of investigators at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute documented the process by which the New York City Smoke-Free Air Act was enacted and examined its economic impact on the city's restaurant and hotel industries.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) (for more information see the Program Results Report).

The study concluded that health advocates secured passage of the law by mobilizing community support and political leaders around their cause, refuting economic arguments that the law would decrease revenue, and framing the debate as a public health issue.

Through an analysis of taxable sales receipts provided by the Department of Taxation and Finance and restaurant employment data from the Department of Labor, investigators found that the act did not adversely affect the city's restaurant or hotel industries.

Using surveys of city residents and restaurant managers, the study further concluded that the public overwhelmingly supported the law, and most restaurants had adjusted to it with relative ease and without additional expense.