Apr 7, 2009

Indiana University study debunks myth that smoking ban will hurt Detroit casinos

Representatives from the Detroit casinos testified before the House Regulatory Reform Committee last month on the dire job losses a smoking ban in the casinos will cause with zero evidence to support that claim, and a study released last month by Indiana University Center for Health Policy called “The Economic Impact of Smoke-free Policies on Business and Health” debunks the myth that a smoking ban will cause a drop in business and job losses.

The study concludes, “although limited research has been conducted on smoke-free
laws’ economic impact on casinos and the gaming industry, the available research shows no negative revenue impact.” That includes sales and gaming receipts.

“Currently, 15 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have enacted 100 percent smoke-free laws for gaming establishments, with more anticipated in 2009. Many casino operators fear that by alienating smokers, they will lose longtime customers; they doubt that nonsmokers will be able to replace loyal patrons. However, in a 2006 study by University of Nevada, Reno researchers concluded that four out of five casino patrons are nonsmokers; casino customers do not smoke any more than the average US population smokes.”

The simple math that no opponent of this public health issue can explain is how 20-25 percent of the population can control so much money and has so much economic clout.

The report says, “news report headlines reading “Smoking ban may be to blame for Illinois casino revenue declines,” coupled with studies reporting similar findings by economist Michael Pakko and researcher Richard Thalheimer, both of whom have strong ties to the tobacco industry, have continued to fuel concerns and resistance toward smoke-free legislation. But studies finding an adverse impact on casino, bar, and restaurant revenue have been criticized regarding potential bias and questionable funding sources.”

The conclusion by bar and restaurant owners of a loss in business, revenue and job loss are based on opinion and not fact. In fact, you will not find one credible study to prove that.

The study took a wider look at the hospitality industry in general, and it reached the same conclusion as casinos. The simple fact is nonsmokers, who outnumber smokers 3 to 1, “would recover or increase any sales lost from smokers, because nonsmokers have been avoiding establishments that allow smoking.”

New York has was one of the first states to pass tough smoking laws, and in 2003 the state banned smoking in all public and private restaurants, bars, bowling facilities, taverns and bingo halls. Sales actually increased after the ban.

In 2004, “a Department of Health study found that the city's restaurants and bars prospered despite the smoking ban, demonstrating increases in liquor licenses, jobs and business tax payments. The report stated that tax receipts increased 8.7 percent from April 1, 2003, to January 1, 2004, compared to the same period in 2002–2003.

The same thing has occurred in the 35 states and numerous countries that have banned smoking in the workplace, including bars and restaurants.

It’s long passed the time that Michigan did the same and banned smoking in the workplace, including bars, restaurants and casinos.

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