Study shows nonsmoking law hasn’t hurt Hawaii tourism

There is no evidence that Hawaii's smoke-free law has hurt the tourism and hospitality industry, according to a study prepared for the state.

The law bans smoking in all enclosed or partially enclosed places of employment, included bars and restaurants.

Leading up to the passage of the law on Nov. 16, 2006, proponents argued that workers' health was at risk due to secondhand smoke exposure, while opponents of the law claimed that its passage placed the tourism industry at risk of economic losses. Opponents were particularly worried about the effect on Japanese visitation and spending, as smoking in Japan is quite a common practice, especially among men. The prohibition of smoking in restaurants and other public places in Japan isn't very common.

The study found that there are 212 more people working in Hawaii's hotel sector after the smoke-free law compared to the year before the law, and that there are 1,591 more jobs in the restaurant sector. The study also found that monthly visitor spending in Hawaii was comparable before and after the law ($1.04 billion before the law compared with $1.02 billion after the law, adjusted for inflation to 2007 dollars). Monthly spending from visitors from Japan was down 8% ($183 million before the law compared with $168 million after the law, adjusted for inflation to 2007 dollars).

The study was prepared for the state by Andrew Hyland and Cheryl Higbee of the Department of Health Behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.


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