Context: Claims that ordinances requiring smoke-free restaurants will adversely affect tourism have been used to argue against passing such ordinances. Data exist regarding the validity of these claims.
Objective: To determine the changes in hotel revenues and international tourism after passage of smoke-free restaurant ordinances in locales where the effect has been debated.
Design: Comparison of hotel revenues and tourism rates before and after passage of 100% smoke-free restaurant ordinances and comparison with US hotel revenue overall.
Setting: Three states (California, Utah, and Vermont) and 6 cities (Boulder, Colo; Flagstaff, Ariz; Los Angeles, Calif; Mesa, Ariz; New York, NY; and San Francisco, Calif) in which the effect on tourism of smoke-free restaurant ordinances had been debated.
Main outcome measures: Hotel room revenues and hotel revenues as a fraction of total retail sales compared with preordinance revenues and overall US revenues.
Results: In constant 1997 dollars, passage of the smoke-free restaurant ordinance was associated with a statistically significant increase in the rate of change of hotel revenues in 4 localities, no significant change in 4 localities, and a significant slowing in the rate of increase (but not a decrease) in 1 locality. There was no significant change in the rate of change of hotel revenues as a fraction of total retail sales (P=.16) or total US hotel revenues associated with the ordinances when pooled across all localities (P = .93). International tourism was either unaffected or increased following implementation of the smoke-free ordinances.
Conclusion: Smoke-free ordinances do not appear to adversely affect, and may increase, tourist business.