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April 5, 2000

Tourism and Smoke-Free Restaurant Ordinances

Author Affiliations

Phil B.FontanarosaMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorStephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Fishbein FellowIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;283(13):1686-1687. doi:10.1001/jama.283.13.1685

To the Editor: Dr Glantz and Ms Charlesworth1 reported that after smoke-free restaurant ordinances were enacted in California, the number of tourists traveling there from Japan increased. However, they failed to address several confounding factors, and the question remains whether implementation of such laws may actually increase the number of international tourists.

As shown in Figure 1,2 the percentage of smokers in Japan has been decreasing slightly since 1995. This confounding factor may explain in part the result of the study. In fact, smoke-free American-style coffee shops have been gaining popularity, and their number has been increasing in Japan.

Figure. Smokers in Japan and Exchange Rate of Japanese Yen to US Dollar
Figure. Smokers in Japan and Exchange Rate
of Japanese Yen to US Dollar

The exchange rate, which exerts much influence on international tourism, is another confounding factor. Figure 1 illustrates the exchange rate of the Japanese yen to the US dollar during the last 12 years.3 The value of the yen has been declining since the time the smoke-free restaurant ordinances went into effect but has not resulted in the expected decrease in tourists from Japan.

Taken together, consideration of these confounding factors provides further support for the authors' conclusion that smoke-free restaurant ordinances do not adversely affect tourism.

Glantz  SACharlesworth  A Tourism and hotel revenues before and after passage of smoke-free restaurant ordinances.  JAMA. 1999;281:1911-1918.Google Scholar
Japan Tobacco Inc, Japan Smoking Rate Survey [press release] [in Japanese]. Tokyo: Japan Tobacco Inc; October 26, 1998.
 OANDA Web site. Available at: http://www.oanda.com. Accessed June 7, 1999.