Economic Impact of a Noncomprehensive Smoke-Free Air Law

Background: Many stakeholders were interested in the potential economic impact of Pennsylvania’s 2008 Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA). This study focused on the examination of economic change subsequent to CIAA and, because CIAA allows certain venue exemptions among eating and drinking establishments, if the allowance of exemptions influenced that impact.

Policy Analysis: Prais–Winsten regressions were employed to assess effects of CIAA and law exemptions on county-level quarterly taxable sales in restaurants and drinking establishments. Regressions controlled for general economic activity, trends in eating/drinking establishment sales, seasonality, and county characteristics.

Findings: Across models, CIAA had no significant negative effects on taxable sales in full-/limited-service restaurants or drinking establishments and some positive effects. CIAA exemptions for drinking establishments do not offer a clear economic benefit. Restaurant and drinking establishment taxable sales were strongly related to overall economic conditions and seasonality.

Conclusion: After controlling for confounding factors, and consistent with the weight of the evidence from literature on the economic impact of smoke-free policies, our study concludes that the Pennsylvania CIAA had no negative effects on per capita restaurant and drinking establishment taxable sales. High rates of drinking establishment exemptions were not economically beneficial. This study can inform efforts to make smoke-free laws more comprehensive.


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July 2014