Foodservice Equipment Reports

Smoking Bans Don’t Adversely Affect Restaurant Revenue

North Carolina’s ban on smoking in restaurants and bars has had no negative impact on the businesses’ revenue and employment, according to a new federal study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been studying nine states’ smoking-ban policies, with North Carolina’s regulations serving as a role model.

About 24,000 establishments in North Carolina are covered by the ban, which went into effect in January 2010. “We found no evidence that North Carolina’s statewide law had affected restaurant or bar employment,” stated researchers. “This result is consistent with a study that found no impact from North Carolina’s smoke-free law on gross revenues in restaurants or bars.”

The study took into consideration the economic downturn and its effect on the hospitality industry and found that the smoke-free law had no impact on the health of the restaurant and bar industries statewide. (Researchers did not study the use of smokeless tobacco products in smoke-free bars and restaurants.)

The Winston-Salem Journal reported that local restaurant and bar operators had experienced some interesting side effects from the ban. Some diners who are smokers say they have compensated for the ban by ordering more takeout meals. Others have patronized restaurants and bars that have outside areas for smoking. Operators say they have gained business by serving more meals in their bar areas.

One area where the ban had a clear measure on economic benefits and costs was in infrastructure expenses. Some restaurants and bars reported having lower maintenance costs, while others are receiving fewer benefits from their heavy investments in high-level air-filtration systems.

Other states involved in the study are Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. The only state that had a noticeable uptick in employment was West Virginia.