Two New Studies Show Smoke Free Policies Benefit Employees, Patrons and Businesses

February 8, 2011
Jennifer Sykes

KANSAS CITY, MO - The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City (HCF) has funded two new studies on the economic impact and air quality of regional smoke free policies that conclusively show that these policies are good for business and good for people.

Research Examines Economic Impact of 2008 Kansas City, MO Smoke Free Ordinance
A recent study funded by HCF determines that there was no negative effect on sales or employment following the adoption of the 2008 smoking ban. The research was conducted by John A. Tauras, Ph.D. and Frank J. Chaloupka, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois-Chicago who have authored similar studies on smoking bans throughout the county.

Data from the study was provided by the Missouri and Kansas Departments of Revenue. Specifically, the researchers used monthly taxable sales in restaurants and bars for cities throughout Kansas and Missouri with populations of 25,000 or more for the period of July 2000 through March 2010. The data showed no difference before and after the implementation of the Kansas City, MO comprehensive smoke-free policy.

“As expected, we find that taxable sales in restaurants and bars are strongly, positively related to overall economic conditions, with sales rising as overall economic activity increases and vice versa,” said Dr. Chaloupka.

The researchers also determined that other local smoke-free policies in Kansas and Missouri have had no negative impact on eating and drinking establishments.

“The Health Care Foundation is dedicated to protecting our community from the harmful effects of second hand smoke,” said HCF Board Chair Norman Siegel. “This study adds to a large and growing body of evidence throughout the country that counter the tobacco and hospitality industry’s claims that smoke-free policies will result in negative economic impact on bars and restaurants. It is our hope that through research such as this, our elected leaders will see the wisdom in adopting such policies to protect all communities in the HCF service area.”

Kansas City, Missouri voters approved a ballot initiative in April 2008 that requires private workplaces,
restaurants and bars to be smoke-free. As of October 2010, 23 states and 430 localities have adopted similar ordinances, providing nearly half of the country’s population with protection from second-hand smoke.

Air Quality Testing Confirms Need for Secondhand Smoke Protections
A new sampling of air quality in metropolitan area bars and restaurants showed mixed results in the rates of indoor air particle pollution from smoking. Air quality levels improved dramatically in Kansas City, Kansas since the enactment of the Kansas statewide public smoking law, while dangerous levels of indoor air quality was reported in two Missouri suburban communities with weak or nonexistent public smoking policies.

Indoor air quality was sampled in 22 bars and restaurants in Kansas City, KS, Blue Springs and Raytown, MO in 2010. The study analysis was conducted by nationally recognized air quality researcher Mark Travers, PhD, MS of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The results of Kansas City, KS testing also were combined with air quality testing in bars and restaurants in six other Kansas communities. The statewide report confirms that customers and employees in Kansas City, KS and all areas of Kansas are protected now from the dangers of second hand smoke in public places.

“The results are very clear,” said Ken Davis, Vice President of Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition. “This report shows the Kansas smoke free law is working in Kansas City, KS. Air quality levels in restaurants and bars there dropped 89% from unhealthy levels to good levels after the statewide smoking law went into effect last July. It is having a positive health impact for workers and patrons.”

According to the report, air sampling in 17 restaurants and bars in Blue Springs and Raytown showed hazardous levels of air pollution from smoking that was between five and eight times higher than what is considered safe by the EPA. “The Missouri air quality testing results showed room for continuing improvement in those metropolitan communities with weak or no restrictions on public smoking,” Davis said.

In the study, trained staff used portable electronic monitors to make precise measurements of toxic airborne particles. The majority of testing was done on weekends when restaurants and bars were most likely to be busy. The reports concludes that comprehensive smoke free policies that prohibits indoor smoking in all indoor places is the only proven means to eliminate this exposure to toxic tobacco smoke pollution.

Currently the Blue Springs smoking ordinance exempts bars, pool halls, bowling alleys and private clubs. Raytown has not yet approved protections from second hand smoke in public places. According to Davis, five metropolitan Missouri communities have comprehensive smoke free policies including KCMO, Independence, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City and Liberty. Five additional communities have weak ordinances including Parkville, Raymore, Belton, Blue Springs and Gladstone. Four communities lack smoke free ordinances including Grandview, Smithville, Raytown and Riverside.