The Benefits of Smoke-Free Restaurants The Benefits of Smoke-Free Restaurants

The difficulty of maintaining a completely smoke free area for non-smokers is reason enough to consider banning smoking from an eating establishment. Smoke free restaurants protect employers, employees, and customers from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. This is the real reason to enforce a smoke free indoor air ordinance in a restaurant.

Is it truly a non-smoking area?

Many restaurants have designated smoking and non-smoking areas to cater to the preferences of their customers. However, despite their best efforts to create two such different entities, this is impossible. Non-smokers do not enjoy cigarette smoke and if any of it pervades their dining area, they are more likely to leave rather than stay for dessert and coffee.

The associated risks of first-hand smoke inhalation

According to the Surgeon General, the list of diseases affected by smoking may be expanded to include: abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, pneumonia, periodontitis, and stomach cancer. Previously known diseases caused by smoking include bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, oral, and throat cancers, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases, as well as reproductive problems.

The associated risks of second-hand smoke inhalation

The detrimental effects of second-hand smoke are well portrayed. Individuals exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer or heart disease. In addition, respiratory conditions, such as allergies, are more likely to become aggravated around second-hand smoke. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as many as 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 37,000 heart disease deaths occur annually due to second-hand smoke.

The associated negative aspects of being in a smoking environment

In addition to the health risks associated with second-hand smoke, other negative factors exist. For example, individuals who work in an environment that allows smoking pick up the odor on the clothes, their hair, and other personal effects. This odor clings to them for several hours and is immediately noticeable. Non-smokers readily notice this clinging residue.

Direct costs to the employer

Employers readily absorb many of the direct costs of smoking. Insurance costs for the establishment may be considerably higher, possibly as much as 25% higher, since smoking is permitted on the premises. In addition, smoke leaves a residue and odor that is distinctive and disagreeable for many. Therefore, additional cleaning supplies and work hours must be paid to accomplish adequate cleaning.

Indirect costs to the employer

Employees who smoke are more likely to take sick time than non-smokers. Workers are not as productive when they are working in an area where smoke is permitted.

Why the controversy exists

Since the decision to smoke is a personal choice, many smokers believe that smoking is their right. Many smokers enjoy a cigarette after their meal. When restaurants become smoke free, smokers no longer have that luxury. On the other hand, non-smokers believe that they have the right to breath smoke free air. Smoke free air is virtually impossible in a restaurant that allows smoking- even if it has two separate areas designated for smoking and non-smoking.

Restaurant owners may have a false sense of who actually eats in their establishment and this can contribute to their reluctance to switch over to smoke free. Non-smokers generally do not return to a restaurant that does not provide adequate accommodations for the non-smoker i.e. an area in which to dine where the remnants of smoke cannot be inhaled. Since they do not make a fuss, the owner never even realizes their displeasure.

Putting up a no smoking sign won’t take away the customer

If you take away the ashtray, you won’t necessarily send away the customer. Customers who smoke may still do that- they simply have to do it outside or in the privacy of their own home. Non-smokers will get to enjoy a meal in a clean air environment. Providing a delicious meal and good service in a comfortable atmosphere will entice the customer to return.

Initial Changes

Although smoking has been a part of the dining out experience for a long time, people are very adaptable to their environment. People go out to eat, quite simply because they want to dine out.

Conclusion Restaurant owners can still provide the comfort their customer’s desire, even though smoking may no longer be allowed at their establishment. Smoking is secondary to dining, and that is most likely one of the reasons that non- smoking establishments will be able to maintain their level of sales.


Surgeon General’s Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking 2004
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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