Research & Commentary: What A Smoking Ban Would Mean for Michigan

Published November 4, 2008

People often support smoking bans in order to be protected from the nuisance of smoking environments in restaurants, bars, casinos, and other businesses. Less attention is given, unfortunately, to protecting the economy and property rights, both of which are deeply threatened by smoking bans.

Many businesses have already gone smoke-free or tailored their establishments in order to attract non-smokers. There’s no need to violate the property rights of business owners by preventing them from setting such rules themselves—just as we would not violate the rights of consumers to choose which establishments they want to patronize.

Many studies have shown that smoking bans have hurt small businesses, especially in the hospitality and gaming industries. In Ohio, for example, the Department of Job and Family Services predicted a 10,000-job gain for the state’s hospitality and leisure industry prior to the ban’s implementation. In reality, during the first 12 months of the smoking ban the industry LOST 5,400 jobs.

Casinos are also struggling greatly since implementation of statewide smoking bans. Since the beginning of 2008, the cumulative adjusted gross receipts of Illinois casinos are down 18.35 percent from where they were at this time last year, before the smoking ban was implemented. By comparison, casinos in Indiana and Iowa—neighboring states where smoking is still allowed on gaming floors—continue to outperform those in Illinois.

Violating the rights of smokers (who are using a legal product, after all) and the businesses that cater to them is wrong—especially when the free market already provides both smoking and non-smoking environments from which employees and customers can freely choose. The free market is the best and fairest mechanism for accommodating the concerns and wants of citizens.

The following articles offer additional information on the consequences of smoking bans.


Still Pooping in My Salad
Heartland President Joseph Bast addresses the wide range of issues raised by smoking bans—from secondhand smoke to the economics of smoking bans to the impact on freedom and property rights.

Research & Commentary: Smoking Bans and Property Rights
John Nothdurft, a legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute, looks at the property rights issues associated with smoking bans. He notes, “The community is better served when businesses, employees, and consumers are allowed to self-regulate and reach accommodations among themselves, rather than punishing some by legislative force.”

The Economic Impact of a Smoking Ban in Columbia, Missouri
Michael Pakko, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, found evidence that suggests the economic costs of smoking bans are likely to be focused on some specific categories of businesses—those that tend to be frequented by smokers. Pakko notes, “statistically significant costs have been identified for casinos and bars, in particular.”

Smoking Bans Cloud Free Market’s Ability to Thrive
The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions takes a comprehensive look at smoking bans. It concludes the best way to promote win-win smoking policy is to inform and educate rather than legislate and regulate.

The Private Market for Accommodations: Determinants of Smoking Policies in Restaurants and Bars
This study finds there is a vibrant market for both smoking and non-smoking establishments and that government intervention negatively alters the market. “This study predicts that owners are likely to suffer losses when government bans and restrictions significantly overturn smoking policies chosen in the absence of government intervention.”

You Don’t Own Joe’s Bar and Grill
This article explains how a Toronto smoking ban reduces consumer choice and is an assault on property rights. In a free economy, businesses should be allowed to adapt to their customers’ wants.

The Case Against Smoking Bans
Thomas A. Lambert, an associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, contends the market is the best place to make decisions on smoking. He writes, “a laissez-faire approach better accommodates heterogeneous preferences regarding public smoking.”

The Economic Impact of the New York State Smoking Ban on New York’s Bars
This research finds there were significant losses of jobs, gross state product, and labor earnings as a result of New York’s smoking ban.


For further information on the subject, visit The Heartland Institute’s Web site at, where you will find articles on the issue available through PolicyBot, Heartland’s free research database.

Nothing in this message is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. If you have any questions about this issue or the Heartland Web site, contact Legislative Specialist John Nothdurft at 312/377-4000 or [email protected].