Major new review of the quality of studies on the economic effects of smoke-free policies on the hospitality industry
A major study was released in February, 2003 in Tobacco Control Journal which assessed the quality of various studies on the economic effects of smoke-free policies on the hospitality industry. The study, by Scollo, Lal, Hyland & Glantz, found that no-smoking policies in restaurants and bars don't harm business, despite concerted efforts by the tobacco industry to prove otherwise. The researchers trawled online databases and print references for all studies produced on the economic impact of smoking bans in bars and restaurants up to the end of August 2002. They included unpublished tobacco industry research, and in total, assessed the findings of 97 studies. The quality of the studies concluding that smoking bans adversely affected revenues, was poor, the authors found. These studies were four times as likely to use subjective rather than objective measures to estimate impact, and they were 20 times as likely not to be peer reviewed. Further, all the studies concluding that smoking restrictions harmed the hospitality industry were funded by the tobacco industry or its allies; none were funded by sources that were clearly independent of the tobacco industry. Only one of the 31 industry funded studies had been published in a peer reviewed journal compared with almost 40% of those funded from other sources. And none of the industry studies met all the accepted criteria for quality, compared with over a third (35%) of those funded from other sources. None of the 21 quality studies reported a negative impact, while four reported that bans had a positive effect on sales. On the basis of the quality of the evidence, fears that smoking bans in bars and restaurants eat into revenues are unfounded, stated the authors. And policy makers wishing to reduce exposure of employees and patrons to the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke should be reassured by these findings, said the authors. To access the study, click above.