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Study: Smoking Bans Don't Lead to Layoffs

May 21, 2009

Louisville, KY – A commonwealth-wide ban on indoor smoking in public places won't result in negative economic impact, according to a new study. Fear of economic losses for bars and restaurants have helped keep an anti-smoking law from passing in Kentucky, but the study, led by Ohio State University and published in the June issue of the journal, Prevention Science, seems to allay concerns from business owners that a ban would lead to lost revenue.

Study lead author, Prof. Liz Klein, says, because smoking ban laws have been passed in several other states, counties and towns, a lot of data exist about economic impact.

"The take-home message from this is that we didn’t find there was any significant affect on employment in bars and restaurants."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that exposure to secondhand smoke increases nonsmokers’ risks of developing lung cancer and heart disease. Klein says the research on the health benefits of making workplaces smoke-free is incontrovertible, and she hopes her study can help hospitality industry owners who want to protect worker health, but who are also concerned about the bottom line.

"Enacting these comprehensive clean indoor-air policies provided the greatest public health benefit and didn’t produce any sort of significant economic effects."

The hospitality industry has claimed smoking bans have hurt bottom lines in states with smoking bans, while the study did not actually analyze the profit-loss sheets for bars and restaurants. Klein argues that information would not have proven valid due to inconsistencies in research data reporting. Staffing levels are an accurate indicator, she says, because hospitality jobs are added and cut quickly based on economic conditions.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY