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Smoke-free Restaurant Ordinances in MA: A Study of their Adoption and Economic Impact

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Project Summary:

Research evidence linking environmental tobacco smoke to smoking-related illness including lung cancer, respiratory disease, and coronary heart disease, has led many localities to adopt regulations that completely eliminate or severely restrict smoking in restaurants. Smoke-free restaurant policies, however, face powerful opposition from restaurant and bar interests, who contend that such bans will irreparably damage their economic position. Proponents of bans counter that smoke-free eating environments may stimulate patronage for the three-quarters of the population who do not smoke. In some cases, the restaurant/hospitality lobby has been able to block, water down, or even repeal these public health measures. This study examines data for all of the cities and towns in the State of Massachusetts that instituted smoke-free restaurant policies between 1992 and 1995. It involves descriptive and multivariate analyses of both the impact of local smoking bans on restaurant business and the adoption of smoke-free restaurant policies. And it involves a series of case study interviews in five Massachusetts communities. The project will determine whether there is a downward trend in restaurant receipts in years after a community enacts an ordinance prohibiting smoking in restaurants, or alternately, if there is a net gain in receipts associated with patrons preferring a no-smoking environment. In addition, it will determine whether a variety of economic, social, and political factors may influence the likelihood of a community adopting a smoke-free restaurant policy.

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