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    October 2, 2006
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Smoking ban won't hurt business, Temple survey says


An indoor smoking ban won’t make restaurant business go up in smoke, according to a new study done by Temple University professors David Zanis and Jennifer Ibrahim.

The study, which was partially financed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Division of Tobacco Control, looked at 541 bars and restaurants in eight Southeastern Pennsylvania Counties–Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.

The owners/managers of these establishments were asked their feelings about indoor smoking bans and their impacts on business.

Zanis, an associate professor in the School of Social Administration at Temple’s Harrisburg campus, says that lower maintenance costs, more business, and a happier and healthier staff are just some of the ways that businesses benefit by going smoke-free.

“Those businesses that have developed smoke-free policies voluntarily have actually seen an increase in revenue, rather than a decrease,” Zanis said. “They’ve also seen a reduction in staff turnover.”

The study also showed that 68 percent of the employees at these businesses want a smoke-free environment and 90 percent of all respondents agreed that secondhand smoke is bad for one’s health.

But perception of revenue loss is what’s driving opposition to smoking bans, says Ibrahim, an assistant professor in Temple’s Department of Public Health.

Because the media has focused on angry bar and restaurant owners who believe that a smoking ban will hurt their business, that’s the message that’s gone out to those considering bans, Ibrahim says. What the survey shows, however, is that business owners just want a say in how these laws are implemented.

“There are a number of people interested in developing smoke-free policies,” she said. “They’re interesting in learning how to implement and create a policy.”

Here are some more of the study’s findings:

  • 65 percent of the respondents didn’t think that casinos should be excluded from a statewide ban; 52 percent said the same about sidewalk cafes.
  • 63 percent favored excluding tobacco specialty shops; 40 percent felt that bars where 90 percent of the profit comes from alcohol should be exempt; and 52 percent supported the exemption of private clubs.
  • Bar owners and respondents who were tobacco users were statistically less likely to support a statewide smoking ban.

- Denise Clay




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