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Economic effect of restaurant smoking restrictions on restaurant business in Massachusetts, 1992 to 1998
  1. W J Bartosch,
  2. G C Pope
  1. Center for Health Economics Research, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 William J Bartosch, Center for Health Economics Research, 411 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 330, Waltham, MA 02452, USA;


Objective: To determine if restaurant business declines or improves after the implementation of restrictive restaurant smoking policies.

Design: Analysis used a pre/post-quasi-experimental design that compared town meals tax receipts before and after the imposition of highly restrictive restaurant smoking policies in adopting versus non-adopting communities. The effect of restaurant smoking policies was estimated using a fixed effects regression model, entering a panel of 84 months of data for the 239 towns in the study. A separate model estimated the effect of restaurant smoking policies on establishments that served alcohol.

Main outcome measure: Change in the trend in meals tax revenue (adjusted for population) following the implementation of highly restrictive restaurant smoking policies.

Results: The local adoption of restrictive restaurant smoking policies did not lead to a measurable deviation from the strong positive trend in revenue between 1992 and 1998 that restaurants in Massachusetts experienced. Controlling for other less restrictive restaurant smoking policies did not change this finding. Similar results were found for only those establishments that served alcoholic beverages.

Conclusions: Highly restrictive restaurant smoking policies do not have a significant effect on a community's level of meal receipts, indicating that claims of community wide restaurant business decline under such policies are unwarranted.

  • policy
  • restaurant smoking
  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • secondhand smoke
  • Massachusetts

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  • * The Massachusetts Association of Health Boards surveyed communities that did not receive MTCP funding and therefore did not regularly report smoking control policy enactment to the state.

  • The Massachusetts meals tax is imposed on establishments that serve any food and/or beverages that has been prepared for immediate human consumption and provided by the restaurant or restaurant part of the store. Restaurants include bakeries, grocery stores, food stands, etc, but only food prepared for immediate consumption is subject to the meals tax.

  • Town population by year was unavailable. §Annual town per capita income was unavailable.

  • For this sensitivity analysis, the 12 communities were reclassified as having adopted other less restrictive restaurant smoking policies.

  • ** The city of Boston's tobacco programme, for example, employs two staff who regularly visit restaurants and tobacco vendors to ensure that they are complying with the city's environmental tobacco smoke and youth access policies.