Scott Caron is quoted extensively in a recent Rolla Daily News article concerning a possible Rolla smoking ban. Mr. Caron states that "50 percent of the country is covered by a Clean Indoor Air Act or ordinance. Currently, 19 states ban smoking in restaurants, bars and/or work places with two more expected to join the ban by 2009." True. And some of these 19 state smoking bans are very harsh. Yet among these laws is an excellent public smoking compromise law recently passed in Tennessee. This law exempts any "over 21" venue. Such a law restricts the exposure of minors to secondhand smoke yet does not favor one sort of business over another and allows adults to make their own free choices.
Mr. Caron reported that Ballwin, Columbia and Kansas City have passed smoking bans. True. Yet people still smoke in Kansas City bars and restaurants. Kansas City will not impose its smoking ban until 85% percent of the counties that make up its metro area sign on. It doesn't look like that will happen soon and the Kansas City Council just rejected a proposal to put a smoking ban on the ballot.
Ballwin, on the other hand, does enforce a severe smoking ban and this ban has devastated Ballwin's best restaurants and bars. The Seventh Inn, one of the few five star restaurants in St. Louis, immediately lost 35 percent of its business after the ban was imposed. Owner Elsa Barth had planned to close or relocate her restaurant outside Ballwin if the smoking ban was not lifted, yet sadly her restaurant was destroyed by fire before she could make that decision. The staff of the best Ballwin bar, the French Quarter, immediately quit after the smoking ban was imposed. Many of Ballwin's best establishments have closed or relocated due to the smoking ban. Ballwin Mayor Walter Young's fear that the smoking ban would leave Ballwin with nothing but fast food restaurants is coming true.
When Kirkwood was considering a smoking ban last year, David McArthur, chairman of the Kirkwood Junction Special Business District Advisory Commission, surveyed 7 Ballwin business concerning their experience of the smoking ban and reported to the Kirkwood City Council:
"Six of the seven reported losses in the bar of 35 to 50 percent. The oneexception, Mi Lupita, is a small restaurant with a six-seat bar area thatlikes the ban because it increased his non-smoking seating table capacityby five tables in the bar area. Restaurants like Longhorn Steakhouse reported bar losses of over 50 percent. No increase in restaurant sales and they now close an hour earlier every day. Also, one bar and two restaurants have closed since the ban.”
These are additional references to business loss in Ballwin suffered due to the smoking ban:
Columbia's smoking ban has likewise caused a great deal of hardship and discontent. Joe Thiel, owner of Otto’s Corner Bar and Grill, says his business is down 35 percent and names eight Columbia businesses that have gone under blaming the smoking ban: Columbia Billards, Rack ‘N’ Roll, Lou’s Palace, Bull Pen Cafe, Garfield’s Restaurant and Pub, Trattoria Strada Nova, Old Chicago, and Classy’s Restaurant. Theil and Betty Hamilton of the Tiger Club have collected enough signatures to force the Columbia City Council to either repeal the ban or put it on the ballot. I doubt that they would go to this trouble if the smoking ban had been good for their businesses.
These are articles concerning Columbia businesses distressed by the smoking ban:
This is a position paper prepared by the Boone Liberty Coalition that makes economic arguments against the Columbia smoking ban using data from other Missouri towns with smoking bans:
Finally, Helena, Bowling Green and Pueblo heart attack rate studies alluded to by Scott Caron have been debunked as junk science. Heart attack rates fluctuate from year to year, regardless of public smoking laws. Nebraska, for instance, enjoyed a 28.5 decrease in its heart attack ratein 2004 versus 2003, yet had no smoking ban. Bar and Restaurant smoking bans have been shown to leave the secondhand smoke exposure rates of nonsmokers unaffected and so it would be implausible to expect any reduction in the heart attack rate of Rolla if the Council imposed a smoking ban. The worrisome aspect of a smoking ban is the increased exposure of children to smoke in the home due to displaced smokers and so an increase in the incidence of asthma attacks in the very young:
Please forgive the length of this e-mail. I want you to have full information available to you for your decision concerning a Rolla smoking ban.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 6:20 PM