Thursday, July 15, 2010

Letter to Dr. Elizabeth Klein

Dear Dr. Klein,

Thank you so much for sending a copy of your bar employment study.

Right off I do find it irregular that your study does not mention the highly influential work of economist Dr. Michael Pakko. Dr. Pakko's economic studies have long been consulted by Midwestern journalists, business and political leaders, and the general public, on the St. Federal Reserve Bank website and his writings on smoking bans have been published in the Federal Reserve Bank publication the Regional Economist. The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank has even put out a video concerning his Illinois smoking ban study that is available on You Tube! When St. Louis City was considering a smoking ban last year, Dr. Pakko's standing as a research economist at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank gave his Columbia and Illinois casino smoking ban studies preeminence over studies conducted by public health professionals. His work had a huge roll in the exemption of bars and casinos from the smoking bans recently passed in St. Louis City and County, and in smoking ban deliberations in cities and states across America. Why does your study pretend his research does not exist?

I would like to further point out that your study can only provide reassurance to communities with low smoking rates. (The Minnesota smoking rate in 2007 was the fifth lowest in the nation, 17 percent, well below the national average.) Such communities according to the research of Dr. Chad Cotti and Dr. Scott Adams are not likely to see a large declines in bar and restaurant employment due to smoking bans. But Dr. Cotti says his research does indeed warn of catastrophic declines in bar employment in places with high smoking rates like St. Louis City. Last year Dr. Cotti predicted that a strict smoking ban in St. Louis City would cause a 19.7 percent decline in bar employment and the closure of many establishmens. Please find Dr. Cotti's statement attached.

Dr. Klein, your research is being used to assure political leaders, business owners, journalists and the general public that smoking bans don't hurt bars. Yet your research is consistent with big bar employment declines in communities with high smoking rates and with harm to individual establishments in communities with lower smoking rates. I think you should warn people that such blanket reassurance is something a study concerning overall employment numbers in two Minnesota cities cannot possibly provide.


Bill Hannegan