Despite the objections of many groups in the food service industry, public smoking bans have been passed with increasing frequency over the past five years.
Restaurants and bars are primarily concerned with losing business as a result of these smoking bans. Advocacy groups claim that the health benefits of banning smoking far outweigh any other concern.
As a restaurateur, you are probably either already under a public smoking ban or will be soon, and it’s important to understand the pros and cons of these bans on your business.
For starters, research has shown that bar and restaurant revenue did not show an appreciable drop after the introduction of a smoking ban.
Smokers just don’t go home after a smoking ban is passed. Instead, they cut down on their smoking and go outside when they need a smoke. Some food service businesses actually saw a rise in business after the ban was passed as new customers ventured out because of the new smoke-free environment.
However, specific segments of the industry do not follow this general trend. In particular, blue collar establishments take the hardest hit when a new smoking ban is passed. Bowling alleys and small local bars have seen as much as a 50% decline in business after the passage of a smoking ban.
While it is unfortunate that some businesses take a huge hit when a smoking ban is passed, the health benefits that are a direct result of banning public smoking are significant, and should really outweigh other concerns.
Heart attacks in public places drop as much as 40% after the enforcement of a public smoking ban. The air quality of restaurants and bars goes from “dangerous” or “extremely unhealthy” classifications to “normal” and “good” overnight. The body of evidence linking even small amounts of second hand smoke to short and long term health problems is now overwhelming.
For the food service industry, smoking bans are a reality that must be dealt with.
If you have the bad luck of operating in a segment that will suffer from the passage of a smoking ban in your area, start to develop a strategy for the day the ban arrives, because it will be here sooner or later. If you have already found yourself under a smoking ban, tell us how it has affected your business.
What are the benefits? The drawbacks? Do you oppose or support introducing smoking bans in other states?