No smoking, no customers?

No smoking, no customers?

The ban on smoking is not yet a week old, but some from the hospitality industry continue to be apprehensive about what it might do to their sales figures.

“We can have a separate room for smoking, but there can be no seating, no service or alcohol served in it", says Asit Sharma, F&B Head for Shalom in New Delhi. “The [smoking] room needs a separate air conditioning and exhaust system as well."

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af68c2b0-93bb-11dd-bc2e-000b5dabf613.flvShalom, which is popular for its hookahs, will face a loss of Rs1 lakh a month by stopping the sale of these trendy smokes.

The previous smoking ban imposed in India 4 years ago failed, so will it work this time? “It totally depends on how they [the government] enforces it and how selective they are", say Mr. Sharma. “There’s no separate government body for this. If it’s just MCD officials governing this, it won’t work well."

Five star hotels, like the Shangri-La in New Delhi, say it’s too soon to tell whether there will be a financial impact. However, guests can still choose to have a smoking room, but won’t be allowed to smoke in public spaces like lounges, lobbies, and restaurants. They have also created separate rooms just for smokers within the hotel premises.

If US studies are anything to go by, the smoking ban should have a positive effect on restaurant sales. A study done by Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly showed that although smokers were eating out less after a smoking ban was imposed in New York City, non-smokers were eating out much more, which actually increased restaurant revenues.

Let’s hope that’s a good indication for India.