1997 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
THE FINANCIAL IMPACT OF A SMOKE FREE POLICY IN RESTAURANTS
Gary Brown BA RRT, Jon Gietzen BS RRT, North Dakota State University/ MeritCare Respiratory Care Program, Fargo ND 58122
Introduction: In our region, approximately 80 % of the population are nonsmokers. The general population in our area, and we expect nationwide, has a good understanding of the hazards of smoking and second hand smoke. In spite of an understanding of these hazards, many restaurants are reluctant to change their smoking policy based on a perception of the potential lost revenue from implementing a smoke free environment. Hypothesis: There would be no difference in revenue after implementation of a smoke-free environment in restaurants or bars. Methods: Respiratory Care students from our 1995 and 1996 classes surveyed every restaurant or bar which served food, in our community of approximately 80,000 for two years in sequence. Consent was implied by those restaurant managers who completed a short branching phone questionnaire. This questionnaire dealt with demographic information and questions regarding the restaurants smoking policy. Results: A total of 167 (96 %) out of 174 possible restaurants and bars which served food participated in the 1996 study. The prevalence of smoke free restaurants increased 4 % in one year between the 1995 (35 % smoke free) and 1996 (39 % smoke free) surveys.
1. Do you allow smoking?
[If yes go to questions 2, 3, 4,
if No go to questions 5, 6, 7] 102(61%) 65(39%)
2. If allow smoking do you
have separate sections? 93(91%) 9(09%)
3. If you have separate sections,
do you have barriers? 44(47%) 49(53%)
Those responding "Yes", generally considered a half
wall, ventilated walls, or plants as a smoking barrier.
4. Have you considered a
smoke free policy? 41(44%) 52(56%)
The most frequently cited reason for not implementing
a smoke free policy, was the possibility of reduced
revenue by not offering a smoking option to patrons.
5. If you have implemented a no smoking policy, how many
months have you been smoke free? [23 +/- 13 months]
6. Would you consider a return to
a smoking policy? 8(12%) 57(88%)
7. How has a smoke free policy impacted business?
100 % of respondents (n=56) experienced no measurable
difference in revenue, several citing an unanticipated increase
in revenue, mostly from traffic from parents with small children.
Conclusions: We found smoke free restaurants are becoming more prevalent. Responses to questions #3 indicate inadequate separation of the sections by any physical or environmental barrier, since smoke is an airborne aerosol, they are providing a nonsmoking section in name only. The most frequently cited reason for not implementing a smoke free policy was concern regarding the impact on revenue. Implementation of a smoke free policy does not appear to negatively impact revenue and in some cases an increase in revenue. We conclude more restaurants would favorably consider a change to a smoke free policy when they see revenue is not negatively impacted. More research is indicated to further define the trend in restaurant smoking policy and it's effect on revenue.