Background: Despite evidence to the contrary from overseas research, the introduction of smoke-free legislation in South Australia (SA), which required all restaurants to go smoke-free in January 1999, sparked concerns among the hospitality industry about loss of restaurant business. This study aimed to determine whether the law had a detrimental impact on restaurant business in SA.
Methods: Using time series analysis, we compared the ratio of monthly restaurant turnover from restaurants and cafes in SA to (a) total retail turnover in SA (minus restaurants) for the years 1991 to 2001 and (b) Australian restaurant turnover (minus SA, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory) for the years 1991–2000.
Results: There was no decline in the ratio of (a) SA restaurant turnover to SA retail turnover or (b) SA restaurant turnover to Australian restaurant turnover.
Conclusion: The introduction of a smoke-free law applying to restaurants in SA did not adversely affect restaurant business in SA.