No Smoking Causes Restaurant Sales to Rise

A study by the University of Florida shows Florida restaurant sales are up over seven percent in the first full year of the ban on indoor smoking, but the news is not so rosy for bars where smoking is allowed.

From one end of the state to the other, the first full year of the smoking ban has been good for restaurants.

Matthew Lippman runs an eatery in the shadow of the state capitol.

Matthew says, "Business has definitely gone up because I think the smoking has allowed patrons to come back."

Statewide, the food business is up 7.3 percent. During the campaign restaurants were predicting dire consequences. Now, they are eating their words.

"The horribles that were suggested beforehand that a lot of folks would go out of business did not come true is what this says."

Lea Crusberg of the Florida Restaurant Association says, "Well, some places did go out of business, but again, yes, it’s encouraging that sales are up; some places did go out of business."

While the smoking ban has been good news for restaurants, it has not been good news for bars. Jay Burleson is the face on the other side of the story. After four and a half years of increasing revenue, his Café Cabernet profits fell after the smoking ban took place.
He attributes it to a drop in his cigar bar business.

Jay says, “So people that, a trend topic that came in for dinner that had dinner and had a great time, they still come in for dinner, but that trend topic used to buy nine cigars and maybe have two more drinks, we don’t have that anymore."

To try and bring back business, Burleson has spent $50,000 adding 100 seats on an outdoor patio which for most restaurants has been a proven path to higher profits.

The first year of the smoking ban also resulted in restaurants hiring about 8,000 more workers.