Smoke-Free Policies Do Not Harm Restaurants' Bottom Line, Study in Massachusetts Finds

Study of the adoption and economic effects of smoke-free restaurant ordinances in Massachusetts

From 1996 to 1998, Gregory C. Pope, MS, and a team of investigators at the Center for Health Economics Research examined whether local smoke-free restaurant policies in Massachusetts affected restaurant sales.

They also identified the economic, social and political factors influencing the likelihood that a community will adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking in restaurants.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP).

Key Findings

  • Based on a town-level analysis of meal taxes collected before and after the imposition of local smoke-free restaurant policies, the study concluded that community-wide smoke-free restaurant policies do not adversely affect restaurant business.
  • A descriptive analysis of the factors that influenced adoption and severity of local restaurant smoking policies in Massachusetts found that:
    • Communities with restaurant smoking policies were typically medium-sized and had a lower proportion of blue-collar workers than towns without smoking restrictions.
    • Communities with higher levels of restrictions had higher median incomes and education levels than communities without restrictions.