Other States laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report

February 26, 2001





By: John Kasprak, Senior Attorney

You asked for information on the Florida and California laws concerning smoking in restaurants. You are also interested in whether implementation of these laws has negatively affected the restaurant business.


Florida amended its “Clean Indoor Air Act” in 2000 by reducing the maximum percentage of seats that may be located in a restaurant's designated smoking area. Previously, a restaurant could designate up to 65% of the seats in its dining room as a smoking area. Under the 2000 legislation (Chapter 2000-185, approved June 2, 2000), a restaurant may designate up to 50% of its seats for smoking. This percentage is further reduced to 35%, effective October 1, 2001. (Nothing in the law prevents a restaurant from banning smoking altogether or setting aside a smaller part of its total space for smoking.)

Previously, the percentage limitation on smoking area seating applied to restaurants seating more than 50 people. The 2000 legislation eliminates this minimum size requirement; thus the smoking area percentage limits will apply to all restaurants, beginning October 1, 2001. (A copy of the new Florida law and related articles are attached.)


California has banned smoking in most indoor workplaces, including the non-bar areas of restaurants, since l995 (see California Labor Code, sec. 6404.5; attached). This action derived from Assembly Bill 13, a measure passed to ban smoking in virtually all workplaces, but which exempted bars, taverns, and casinos until January 1, l998, when the smoking ban was extended to these places. Initially, many bars ignored the ban, according to various press reports. Public acceptance of the law apparently is growing, according to recent surveys. The state has begun to issue significant fines on so-called “stand-alone bars” not connected to restaurants or other businesses.


The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study in l999 examining tourism and hotel revenues before and after passage of smoke-free restaurant ordinances (JAMA, May 26, l999, pp.1911-1918; see attached). The objective of the study was to determine the changes in hotel revenues and tourism rates before and after passage of smoke-free restaurant laws in locales where the effect has been debated. The study involved three states (California, Utah, and Vermont), and six cities (Boulder, Colorado; Flagstaff, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; Mesa, Arizona; New York City; and San Francisco, California).

The study found that in constant 1997 dollars, passage of the smoke-free laws was associated with a statistically significant increase in the rate of change of hotel revenues in four localities, no significant change in another four, and a significant slowing in the rate of increase (but not a decrease) in one locality. The authors concluded that smoke-free ordinances do not appear to adversely affect, and may increase, tourist business.

A study conducted in 2000 by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York found “virtually no negative effects on restaurant sales from smoking restrictions enacted in cities in New York, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Texas” (see “Smoke-Free Policies May Help, Not Hinder Business,” Reuters Health News, September 5, 2000; see attached). The study, done by Dr. Andrew Hyland of the University of Buffalo, found that bar revenues in California increased by 6% twelve months after smoking was restricted. Hyland based his review on existing data that focused on the economic effects of implementing smoke-free policies.

A Gallup Poll conducted November 13-15, 2000 found that 47% of those surveyed favored a complete ban on smoking in restaurants. That figure was up from 40% in l999 and 17% in l987, the first year Gallup measured the issue. But Gallup also found that a solid majority still favors the preservation of smoking areas in the workplace as well as in hotels. About 72% believed smoking should be allowed in hotels and motels, either with no restrictions or special smoking areas. A slightly smaller amount (63%) believed smoking should be allowed in the workplace (see attached article).

In California, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association did a study, when the law banning smoking first took effect and reported a 20% loss in revenues in the first quarter following implementation (see attached article).