Predictions that tourists would abandon cities and states that banned smoking
in restaurants haven't come true, according to a study using data from
California, San Francisco, and a handful of other cities and states.
Stanton A. Glantz, a leading tobacco opponent and professor at UC-San
Francisco, and colleague Annemarie Charlesworth, looked at hotel revenues and
tourism rates in three states and six cities that had non-smoking ordinances
for at least a year.
Their study, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical
Association, found no cases in which hotel receipts dipped. Tourism and hotel
revenue actually rose in most places, the researchers found.
That contrasts with predictions by the tobacco industry and its allies, which
had said tourism would drop after smoking was banned or restricted.
California has outlawed smoking in restaurants since 1995 and in bars since
the beginning of 1998.
As of March 1st, 134 communities had restaurant smoking bans on the books,
according to Americans for Non-Smokers' Rights. Maine recently passed a ban
on smoking in restaurants, and a similar law is also being considered in
A previous study of restaurant receipts by Glantz and others also found that
restaurants did as well or better after smoking was banned.
Since that study, Glantz said smoking ban opponents shifted their arguments
to claim that tourism - especially among Asians and Europeans - would fall
since those visitors wouldn't be able to smoke in restaurants.
The authors also looked at international tourism in New York, San Francisco
and Utah and found that more Japanese travelers came to California and more
Europeans went to New York City after smoking was restricted. They found no
significant change in Utah.
Besides California, San Francisco and New York City, the authors looked at
hotel revenues in Utah and Vermont and in the cities of Los Angeles, Boulder,
Colo., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Mesa, Ariz.
Thomas Humber, president of the Virginia-based National Smokers Alliance, an
industry-funded group, said he doubted the study's validity since Glantz is
such a well-known anti-tobacco activist.
He also said looking at aggregate tax receipts for hotels may not give a true
picture of the laws' effects since the country is in the midst of an economic
"It is impossible to say what has actually occurred," Humber said. "It could
be simply that there are diminished profits that would have grown at a faster
pace or greater rate."
Glantz, a longtime tobacco industry critic, said his study is credible
because it was based on data collected by agencies like state and city taxing
authorities and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
"We went out and collected objective data from people with no interest in the
outcome," he said.
"Smoking Ban No Harm To Tourism, Study Says," Ulysses Torassa, EXAMINER MEDICAL WRITER,
May 25, 1999, San Francisco Examiner
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