SACRAMENTO--Restaurant smoking bans have not hurt
tourism in California and other states or cities that adopted
tough restrictions, according to a new study disputing a key
tobacco industry argument against such laws.
The report by two UC San Francisco researchers, to be published
today in The Journal of the American Medical Assn., found that
hotel revenue in about half the states and cities actually jumped after
strict smoking laws were enacted.
The study also concluded that tourism from foreign lands--where
smoking often is more accepted than in the United States--was not
curtailed by restaurant restrictions.
"Before many of these laws were passed, there were very specific
predictions of catastrophe voiced all over the country by the
tobacco industry and their toadies," said Stanton A. Glantz, the UC
San Francisco medical professor who conducted the study. "Those
dire warnings simply were not true."
Smoking advocates quickly attacked Glantz, who has long jousted
with the tobacco industry, and dismissed the study as a biased
report intended to hem in smokers by spreading the gospel of
"Once again, we've got an advocacy piece masquerading as
research," said Thomas Humber, president of the National Smokers
The study by Glantz and research associate Annemarie
Charlesworth marks the third time in the last five years that Glantz
has produced a study playing down the economic effects of
A 1994 Glantz study found that smoking bans do not cause
economic chaos for restaurants, while his 1998 report disputed the
effect of smoking prohibitions in bars. The tobacco industry
characterized both reports as slanted.
The tobacco industry has attempted to block anti-smoking
campaigns or soften existing laws by voicing concerns that tourism
could be hurt.
To determine if that had occurred, the researchers looked at hotel
revenues to measure the effect of anti-smoking laws on tourism in
California, Utah and Vermont as well as Boulder, Colo., Flagstaff
and Mesa, Ariz., New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
California and the two other states saw an increase in hotel receipts
after smoking laws took effect, as did San Francisco, the study
found. Four other cities, including Los Angeles, had no significant
change. Only Flagstaff experienced a significant slowdown in the
rate of increase for hotel revenues.
The study also showed that international tourism rose in California,
with an increase in visitors from Japan. New York City saw a jump
in European visitors despite restaurant smoking restrictions.
Such results should be of no surprise to tobacco companies, Glantz
said. He said that tobacco giant Philip Morris commissioned a
1989 study, kept secret until recently, that found people in 10
European countries were more accepting of smoke-free restaurant
ordinances than were Americans.
Glantz and Charlesworth conclude that efforts to restrict smoking
elsewhere should not be deterred by tourism worries. "Indeed,"
they suggest in the study, "these ordinances may even be beneficial
That was hardly the conventional wisdom as California launched a
1995 ban on restaurant smoking. Last year, restrictions were
extended to bars. Tourism officials worried about the effect.
"It certainly looked like smoking bans could have serious impacts,
particularly on visitors from Europe or Asia where there's a
preponderance of smokers," said Rick Lawrance, executive vice
president of the California Lodging Industry Assn.
Instead, Lawrance said, reports from lodging operators seem to
back the Glantz study. Visitors have continued to come, and have
willingly segregated themselves into smoking or nonsmoking rooms.
But smoker rights advocates such as Humber say the inability of
authorities to tightly regulate the smoking ban undermines the
credibility of the Glantz study, making the law largely irrelevant and
the impact on tourism is negligible. "Enforcing these laws is about as
easy as enforcing prostitution," Humber said.
Glantz said the study demonstrates that the tobacco industry's dire
predictions for tourism were "a fig leaf" for their real
"At some point people are going to stop believing the industry since
every claim they've made about smoking laws has been proven
wrong," he said.
ERIC BAILEY, LA Times Staff Writer
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