A report released by the Chronic Disease, Healthy Behavior and Injury Epidemiology Section and the Georgia Tobacco Use Prevention Program of the Georgia Department of Public Health shows that the city of Savannah’s 2010 Smoke-Free Air Ordinance has not caused a decline on taxable sales revenue for bars and restaurants in Chatham County.
The report, entitled “Economic Impact Evaluation of the 2010 Savannah Smoke-Free Air Ordinance,” reinforces findings from a 2009 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that smoke-free policies do not have a negative economic impact on the hospitality industry.
The ordinance, which went into effect on January 1, 2011, prohibits smoking in all public and work places in the city of Savannah including full-service restaurants, bars, and outdoor eating service areas. According to the report, which is based on sales tax revenue data from the Georgia Department of Revenue for bars and full-service restaurants in Chatham County before and after the ordinance was implemented, the Smoke-Free Ordinance “had no impact on taxable sales revenue for bars and full-service restaurants in Chatham County after adjusting for time, seasonality, unemployment rate, and overall sales in all other sectors.” “There was some skepticism that keeping tobacco out of bars and restaurants would hurt those businesses financially but this shows that has not happened,” said Diane Weems, M.D., Health Director for the Coastal Health District.
Advocacy for Savannah’s Smoke-Free Air Ordinance and subsequent Smoke-Free Air Ordinance passed by Chatham County effective in early 2012 was spearheaded by Healthy Savannah, a coalition comprised of community partners including the Chatham County Health Department along with representatives from other local healthcare agencies that are dedicated to making our community a healthier place to live.