Economic Impact of Smoke-free Air Laws in North Dakota on Restaurants and Bars
INTRODUCTION: In late 2012, North Dakota expanded its statewide smoke-free air law to cover all restaurants and bars in the state. Several North Dakota communities also had local ordinances that prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars prior to the statewide law. Previous work found no effect of the initial statewide law or several local laws on restaurant and bar sales. METHODS: Using quarterly county-level employment data from 1990 to 2014, we examined whether the expanded statewide law or pre-existing local laws were associated with significant changes in employment in restaurants and bars in North Dakota. Separate models were estimated for restaurant and bar employment using two methods of controlling for smoke-free air law coverage. RESULTS: We found no evidence of a significant association between employment in restaurants and bars in North Dakota and the expanded statewide law or pre-existing local laws. Prior employment levels in restaurants and bars and prevailing economic conditions were the main drivers of restaurant and bar employment, not smoke-free air laws. CONCLUSIONS: This study examines the economic impact of smoke-free air laws in North Dakota on restaurant and bar employment following the expansion of the statewide law in late 2012 to cover all restaurants and bars. We find no significant adverse effect of smoke-free air laws on restaurants and bars, consistent with results from previous studies conducted in North Dakota and throughout the United States.