Objective: To determine whether Lexington, Kentucky’s smoke-free law affected employment and business closures in restaurants and bars. On 27 April 2004, Lexington-Fayette County implemented a comprehensive ordinance prohibiting smoking in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants. Lexington is located in a major tobacco-growing state that has the highest smoking rate in the US and was the first Kentucky community to become smoke-free.
Design: A fixed-effects time series design to estimate the effect of the smoke-free law on employment and ordinary least squares to estimate the effect on business openings and closings.
Subjects and settings: All restaurants and bars in Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky and the six contiguous counties.
Main outcome measures: ES-202 employment data from the Kentucky Workforce Cabinet; Business opening/closings data from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, Environmental Division.
Results: A positive and significant relationship was observed between the smoke-free legislation and restaurant employment, but no significant relationship was observed with bar employment. No relationship was observed between the law’s implementation and employment in contiguous counties nor between the smoke-free law and business openings or closures in alcohol-serving and or non-alcohol-serving businesses.
Conclusions: No important economic harm stemmed from the smoke-free legislation over the period studied, despite the fact that Lexington is located in a tobacco-producing state with higher-than-average smoking rates.
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Funding: This study was funded by the University of Kentucky Research Program.
Competing interests: None declared.
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