A report on the cost-effectiveness of smokefree policies was launched at the conference "Smokefree Europe 2005 in Luxembourg on 2 June 2005.

ECL's Luk Joossens co-authored this report and presented his findings to the conference.


Tobacco companies have always claimed that a smoking ban in bars and restaurants would have a negative impact on business and lead to fewer sales and to less employment. The new report shows that independent and reliable research on the financial impact of smoke free policies in the hospitality industry provides evidence that counters the tobacco industry's economic claims.

A review of almost 100 studies from Canada, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and Hong Kong, failed to find a negative impact or a positive effect in studies based on objective and reliable measures, such as taxable sales receipts, data several years before and after the introduction of smoke free policies, where controls for changes in economic conditions were employed, and where statistical tests were used to control for underlying trends and data fluctuations.

In New York one year after the 2003 Smoke Free Air Act banning smoking in all workplaces came into effect, business receipts for restaurants and bars have increased by 8.7%, employment has risen with 10,600 new jobs, virtually all establishments are complying with the law, and the number of new liquor licenses issued has increased, all signs that New York City bars and restaurants are prospering.

The volume of sales in bars in Ireland increased until 2001, but decreased by 2.8% in 2002, 4.2% in 2003 and 4.4% in 2004. Prior to the Irish law banning smoking in the workplace (including bars and restaurants) which came into force in 2004, drinking habits in Ireland had changed already. As in British Columbia, the decline in the volume of sales at drinking places in Ireland occurred prior to the enactment of the smoking ban.

Drinking habits are changing within Europe, as per capita alcohol consumption is decreasing and more people are drinking at home. Many factors may influence the sales of the hospitality industry.

The number of drinking places in countries is, for instance, decreasing in several European countries. The decrease in the number of bars has been linked to the changing drinking habits (less alcohol intake and more drinking at home), the price of the drinks, the closure of bars and cafes in small villages and the shift from drinking places to places which also serve food.

In Ireland the number of employees in the hospitality sector at the end of 2004 exceeded those employed in 2002 by 0.6% despite the smoking ban taking effect in all indoor public places in March 2004. Recent data on tourism and travel shows that there was a 3.2% increase in visitors to Ireland in 2004 when compared to 2003.

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