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Hospitality Industry Performed Well After Wisconsin Smoking Ban

Madison, Wisconsin - Smoke-free ordinances in five Wisconsin cities, enacted years before the statewide law, did not have a negative economic impact on the hospitality industry, according to a study released today by a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center (UWCCC).


Study author David Ahrens added that in virtually every city with an ordinance, the number of Class B alcohol licenses increased after the ordinance was enacted. He also noted a small dip in the number of taverns, which is consistent with a historical trend, while the number of employees working in taverns increased.


The study looked at a number of factors in the cities of Madison, Appleton, Eau Claire, Marshfield and Fond du Lac, including:

  • The number of alcohol licenses issued to bars and restaurants
  • The number of establishments operating before and after the ban
  • The number of employees in the year before the ordinance went into effect and the year or two after enactment
  • The number of violations of the ordinance

It also compared these factors with similar areas that had no ordinances.


"Despite the recession occurring in mid-2008, the hospitality industry remained the most economically successful industry sector in these cities. There were no significant differences in economic trends between communities with smoke-free laws and those without smoke-free laws," said Ahrens.


Critics of smoke-free laws have said that the number of fines and violations issued is a reliable indicator of the real cost of those laws to business owners. They argue that business owners who violate the law and pay a fine are indicating that their costs of complying with the law are higher than the cost of fines.


The study examined the number of ordinance violations in the cities and found that in a total of "14 ordinance-years" (for the five cities) there were only three violations. This indicates that hospitality-business owners did not see a significant cost to comply with the law.


These economic data and findings on law violations are consistent with data released by the Department of Health Services that show a very low number of complaints about law violations. Ahrens also says the findings are confirmed by dozens of studies of economic effects conducted in numerous cities and states.

Date Published: 01/24/2011

News tag(s):  tobaccoresearchcancerpublic health

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Hospitality Industry Performed Well After Wisconsin Smoking Ban

Last updated: 03/14/2014
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