Pubs “not harmed by no-smoking policies”
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
By Rebecca Oppenheim
New research suggests that no-smoking policies in bars and restaurants do not harm sales, despite the tobacco industry trying to prove otherwise.
A study in the journal Tobacco Control says research suggesting pubs and restaurants lose money when smoking bans are imposed are poor quality and biased.
In fact, the researchers say several “quality” studies prove that bans actually have a positive effect on sales.
The authors looked at 97 studies analysing the economic impact of smoking bans in bars and restaurants up to the end of August 2002.
They found that those studies that concluded smoking bans were bad for business were poor quality. They were four times as likely to use subjective rather than objective measures to estimate the impact and 20 times less likely to be peer reviewed.
All the studies that concluded smoking bans had a negative impact were found to be funded by sources that were in some way related to the tobacco industry.
None of the 31 industry-funded studies met all the accepted criteria for quality, compared with more than a third of those funded from other sources. And only one of the industry studies had been published in a peer-reviewed journal compared with almost 40 per cent of the studies funded from other sources.
Of the 21 quality studies none reported a negative impact on business, and in fact four reported that bans had a positive effect.
Writing in the British Medical Journal publication, the authors conclude that, based on evidence from the quality studies, smoking bans in bars and restaurants do not harm business.
Amanda Sandford, from anti-smoking charity ASH, pointed out that 80 per cent of the population favour smoke-free environments. She said any fall in the number of smokers in a specific bar would more than likely be offset by an increase in pub-goers who preferred bars with no-smoking policies.
“Our own government has deferred a decision on how to tackle passive smoke in this country because of worries about the impact of restrictions on the hospitality industry,” she said. “This study debunks the industry’s alarmist propaganda. Policymakers should be left in no doubt that the evidence to support the trade just isn’t there.”
© HMG Worldwide 2003