Out of Smoke, but Not Out of Steam

Brighten up, barmaids. New York City's recent ban on smoking in bars and restaurants may actually attract customers to these establishments, according to a survey conducted in California after the state enacted a similar ban.

Six years after California enacted its smoking ban in 1994, 91 percent of surveyed bar patrons–smokers and nonsmokers alike–reported visiting bars the same amount or more frequently because of the law. Imbibers in the state were increasingly undeterred by the no-smoking law as time passed – only 60 percent had approved of the law three months after it went into effect.

This increasingly positive attitude reflects greater public concern about smoking's negative effects, says the study's lead author Hao Tang, M.D., Ph.D., of the California Department of Health Services. Tang says the results might be paralleled in New York with those who disapprove of the city's smoking ban changing their opinions over time.

Researchers in the study conducted three telephone surveys, each including at least 1,000 people who visited a bar at least once in the past year. Overall, 664 smokers were included. Results were published in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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