New Smoking Study Doesn’t Clear The Air

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August 9, 2013 —

INDIANAPOLIS – Advocates for smoking bans that include bars and restaurants are urging local Indiana communities and state lawmakers to make bars, restaurants and casinos smoke-free after the release of a study that shows that doing so would likely not harm the restaurant and bar industry.

But groups that represent bars, taverns and others that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages say they still oppose statewide smoking bans that include bars where people must be 21 or older to enter.

The study, conducted by Pfizer Inc. through a grant from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention and published in Preventing Chronic Disease, a scientific journal, used data from 2000 to 2010 to analyze the potential impact of a statewide smoke-free law on employment and taxable sales revenues in nine state, including Indiana.

Brett Loomis, a research economist at RTI International who was the lead author of the study, said he and other researchers found that “smoke-free laws do not have a negative economic impact on aggregate restaurant or bar employment or revenues.”

“Our findings suggest that a statewide smoke-free law in the state examined would not be expected to have an adverse economic impact on restaurant and bars in those states,” Loomis said in a statement.

But Don Marquardt, president of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, said there have been several studies done, and they aren’t necessarily an accurate representation of what would happen.

“You can use your facts and your studies to prove what you want to prove,” Marquardt said.

He said that is especially true in the cases of studies that include restaurants, as this one did, because smoke-free laws would “probably not affect restaurants as much as bars.”

Lindsay Grace, the campaign coordinator for Tobacco Free Indiana, said the study serves as “further proof” that smoke-free laws “don’t hurt business.”

“Indiana’s smoke-free air law is a first step but many workers continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke on the job and in public places,” she said in a statement. “We urge local communities to take action and protect workers in more hospitality venues, such as bars clubs and casinos.”

And Grace said the study means restaurant and bar owners in Indiana – who are “a vital part of our community” – don’t have to worry about a smoke-free law having a negative impact their daily business.

“Some owners have expressed concerns about the possible economic impact of smoke-free laws – this new study can help put those fears to rest,” she said.

But Marquardt said he has talked to bar owners and heard from them – especially those who own small bars – that they experience at least a 20 percent decrease in sales.

He said a lot of the places his organization represents “have had to spend money for an outside smoking area” to keep customers happy.

He said his organization still believes it “should be the owners’ call whether they want to allow smoking or be smoke-free.”

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