Smoke-free successes in North America provide a lesson for the UK

Tuesday 23 September 2003

ASH news release: 

For immediate use:  Tuesday 23 September 2003


Smoke-free successes in North America provide a lesson for the UK


Smoke-free bars and restaurants are a hit with customers and staff,  new research from the United States shows.   And gloomy forecasts about loss of trade from the tobacco industry and some in the hospitality trades have been proven false.   But, as a Canadian study also shows,  the tobacco industry is still spending heavily to try to stop or wreck smoke-free laws.


A study in Los Angeles of customer compliance with California’s smoke-free workplace law found that, between 1998 and 2002,  compliance rose from 46% to 76% in freestanding bars and from 92% to 99% in bar/restaurants.   The number of employees observing the non-smoking rule also rose sharply during    the same period, from 86% to 95% in bars and from 97% to 99% in bar/restaurants.  [1]  Meanwhile, barely six months after the introduction of the smoke-free law in New York, the city has witnessed a significant upturn in hotel bookings and an increase of almost 10,000 jobs in the hospitality sector between March and June.  [2]  And a new opinion poll has found that 70% of New Yorkers support the City’s smoke-free workplace law.


A third study [3] examined the successful implementation of a smoke-free by-law in the British Columbia capital and revealed how the tobacco industry, acting through the hospitality sector, tried to stop it.


Deborah Arnott, Director of the anti-tobacco campaigning group ASH, said:


“These studies show that smoke-free laws are popular with both public and staff, and that compliance increases over time.  Voluntary smoking restrictions measures are not enough to protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.  [4]


The tobacco industry has been trying to con people into believing that smoke-free laws are bad for business, peddling stories that takings were down by as much as a half  in New York, for example.  But the truth is very different.  Eliminating tobacco smoke pollution from bars and restaurants is good for business and good for the  health of customers and staff. It’s time we in the UK followed the US example.”




Notes and links:

[1]  Weber, M D et al.  Long term compliance with California’s smoke-free workplace law among bars and restaurants in Los Angeles County.  Tobacco Control 2003; 12 (3) 269-273

[2] New York State Dept of Labor. Press release 23 July 2003

[3]  Drope, J and Glantz, S.  British Columbia capital regional district 100% smokefree bylaw: a successful public health campaign despite industry opposition.  Tobacco Control 2003; 12: 264-268

[4]  The Public Places Charter is a voluntary code agreed between the UK hospitality industry and the government which was designed to increase provision for non-smokers.  An independent review of the code published earlier this year found that the hospitality trade had not met the Charter’s targets on smoking.


Contact: Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available

or Amanda Sandford  020 7739 5902