Public Opinions on Smoking Regulations in Restaurants

Research conducted by: Elaine Garcia, UH-D undergraduate

Case study prepared by: Emily Zitek


There have been many debates in the past decades about whether or not to make smoking illegal in public restaurants. As states are starting to ban smoking in restaurants, people are voicing their opinions about whether or not this is a good thing (see links below). The purpose of this study is to learn about some of these opinions.

A survey about smoking was administered to 66 individuals, both smokers and non-smokers. Some items from this survey are used in this case study.

Questions to Answer
Do most people think that smoking is okay in kid-themed and/or adult-themed restaurants? Are there differences between smokers and non-smokers in these attitudes?

Design Issues
The way that smoker is divided here is probably too simple to really answer the question effectively. The original survey used in this study asked more questions about smoking status (is the person a former smoker, how often the person smokes, etc.). However, to limit the amount of data presented in this case study, only current smoking status is used here.

Descriptions of Variables
Variable Description
Smoker Asked if the participants considered themselves current smokers
0 = nonsmoker, 1 = smoker
in_kid Inside kid-themed restaurants is an acceptable environment for smoking
1 = strongly agree to 5 = strongly disagree
in_adult Inside adult-themed restaurants is an acceptable environment for smoking
1 = strongly agree to 5 = strongly disagree


Biener, L., & Siegel, M. (1997). Behavior intentions of the public after bans on smoking in restaurants and bars. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 2042.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (1995). Attitudes toward smoking policies in eight states – United States, 1993. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 273, 531.

Dixon, R. D., Lowery, R. C., Levy, D. E., & Ferraro, K. F. (1991). Self-interest and public opinion toward smoking policies: A replication and extension. Public Opinion Quarterly, 55, 241-254.

Lacchetti, C., Cohen, J., Ashley, M. J., Ferrence, R., Bull, S., de Groh, M., & Pederson, L. (2001). Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 3, 257-260.

  1. What is the participant variable (used as an independent variable)?
  2. What are the dependent variables?
  3. What percentage of people in this study are smokers?
  4. What is the mean of the ratings that smoking should not be allowed in kid-themed restaurants? What is the median of this distribution? Is this variable normally distributed?
  5. Plot side-by-side box plots of the amount of opposition to smoking in a kid-themed restaurant by smoking status. Why does one of the box plots look strange?
  6. Is there a difference between smokers and non-smokers about whether they believe that smoking in a kid-themed restaurant is appropriate? Perform a t test.
  7. Plot a histogram of the distribution of the in_adult variable. Does it look normally distributed?
  8. What is the standard deviation of the in_adult variable?
  9. Is there a difference between smokers and non-smokers about whether they believe that smoking in an adult-themed restaurant is appropriate? Perform a t test.
  10. Do people generally disagree that an adult-themed restaurant is an appropriate place for smoking? Perform a one-sample t test on the variable in_adult to see if it is significantly different than 3 (the neutral rating).
  11. Would the results of the t test for question 10 be the same if you only considered smokers?
  12. Which assumption of the t test conducted in #10 is violated?
  13. What is the correlation between the in_kid and in_adult variables? Interpret this result.
  14. Do the participants think that it is less acceptable to permit smoking in a kid-themed restaurant than in an adult-themed restaurant? Perform a paired t test to answer this question. Interpret the results.