Hotel Online Special Report
Texas Hospitality Survey Shows Concern 
Over Smoking Bans
HOUSTON, June 29, 1998 -  A majority of Texas hospitality business owners and managers say they would expect a decline in business if a smoking ban were imposed on the hospitality industry, according to a poll conducted for the Texas Restaurant Association which was released this week at the annual Southwest Foodservice Expo.

Hospitality business owners and managers were also overwhelmingly in favor of having managers (61 percent) or customers (24 percent) decide smoking policies for their businesses instead of government (10 percent). Fifty-two percent of those surveyed agreed that their businesses would suffer under a complete smoking ban. Of that number, 54 percent thought their business would decrease by 20 percent or more, while 56 percent said they would be forced to lay off employees.

"We know that smoking bans can have serious consequences on business," said Texas Restaurant Association Executive Vice President Richie Jackson. "Smoking bans in California and Massachusetts have led to lower sales, lost jobs and business closings for many of our colleagues in the hospitality industry. These smoking bans threaten to handicap our ability to accommodate the choices of our customers; in turn threatening the success of Texas' hospitality business."

The poll found that 77 percent currently have designated smoking and non- smoking sections in their establishments, while 8 percent enforce no smoking restrictions, 15 percent don't permit smoking at all and 1 percent are undecided.

The survey indicated that these policies appear to be working well for both business owners and their customers. In fact, 94 percent of those who participated said that their current smoking policy meets their business needs, and 88 percent believed their customers were satisfied with their existing smoking policy.

"As business owners, we are faced daily with making decisions that meet our customers' demands," said Cooper Stewart, vice president of Wizards Sports Cafe in Richardson, TX. "Determining smoking policies is hardly different than selecting menu items or business hours." Among other significant findings of the survey are:

77 percent agreed that adult smokers are an extremely important
customer base for the industry
76 percent agreed that most of their customers support accommodating
both smokers and nonsmokers
80 percent agreed that accommodation is a better solution than a
complete ban on smoking in hospitality establishments

Three hundred Texas proprietors and managers in the hospitality industry participated in the poll which was conducted by the Eppstein Group and funded with a grant from The Accommodation Program, courtesy of Philip Morris Incorporated.

Sarah Lambie 
Texas Restaurant Association
Also see: California Saloon Smoking Ban Update / May 1998 
Bar Patrons in California Support Smoke-Free Bars / June 1998

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