May 29, 2009

U of M study concludes a workplace smoking ban will not hurt business

Another study was just released that puts to rest the myth that a workplace smoking ban, including bars and restaurants, will result in a drop in business and a loss of jobs.

The University of Michigan Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy released a study on Thursday that concluded the state's bars and restaurants would not be hurt by a proposed workplace smoking ban. The study said “in economic terms, most high-quality research finds that smoking bans have not had negative effects on the revenues of restaurants and bars.”

The most opposition to the workplace smoking ban has come from industry groups like the Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) and the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) who make the false claim that a ban will cost jobs to their members.

The MLBA has been very vocal about their opposition, citing debunked studies to make their claim. But the U of M study concluded that “many of the studies finding negative effects were either conducted by organizations with links to the tobacco industry or funded by the tobacco industry or industry groups supported by the tobacco industry.”

But most surprising was that Andy Deloney, vice president of public affairs for the Michigan Restaurant Association, was quoted in subscription only Gongwer as saying agreed there would be increases in statewide restaurant sales after a smoking ban was implemented. He has been one of the most vocal critics of the ban, testifying in committees and widely quoted in news reports.

"Almost every single year in every single state total statewide restaurant sales go up," he was quoted as saying.

Other studies have also concluded the ban will not hurt business, such as the Indiana University Center for Health Policy, Grand Valley State University and Public Sector Consultants Inc. report “Smokefree workplaces: The Impact of House Bill 4163 on the Restaurant and Bar Industry in Michigan.”

The effects on casinos are a little more mixed, and part of that problem is because there is little data available. Delaware is one of the few states that have data available. The report concluded “two of the three studies found that the Delaware smoking ban negatively affected revenue at Delaware’s three racinos.”

“On the other hand, a study analyzing the impact of smoke-free ordinances in Massachusetts on gambling sponsored by charitable organizations, such as bingo, found that such ordinances did not affect gambling revenue.”

The fact is no one can explain how just 22 percent of the population who still smoke can have such an economic effect. Most gamblers who are bothered by smoke go across the Detroit River to the Windsor casinos where smoking is banned.

The health effects of deadly secondhand smoke are undisputed, and the study concluded “Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke. The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), housed at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, conducts and supports applied policy research designed to inform state, local, and urban policy issues. Through integrated research, teaching, and outreach involving academic researchers, students, policymakers and practitioners, CLOSUP seeks to foster understanding of today’s state and local policy problems, and to find effective solutions to those problems.


mike said...

You have the wrong end on this one, as does the Michigan study. They try to show in aggregate that there should be no change when in fact, we know different segments are impacted differently.

Family restaurants are probably unaffected(red robin) as are some urban upscale restaurants with a younger clientele (Toms Oyster).

Rural bars and restaurants with a more traditional clientele will lose 30-50% of revenue, as their non-smoking friends won't go out either if they can't smoke.

Instead they'll entertain at home more. Some points to consider;

1) Ireland implemented the first smoking ban in 2002, and within 3 years most non-Dublin bars were losing money. For the first time anyone could remember, bars were failing in Dublin. Today, you can buy just about any bar in any small town, but you won't find a bank to lend money for one because they see the decline and the failures. People entertain at home much more.
2) England implemented a smoking ban in mid 2007. By the end of last year, there were several notable receivership (Google orchid).
3) New York implemented their ban in 2003 and in 2004 changed how they collected and reported data to include fastfood restaurants which were increasing. The local bar association wrote to the papers to decry how numbers were being manipulated to not reflect the reality on the ground.
4) California has had a bar smoking ban since 1991. To this date, no one has provided data to show that people either stop smoking or a decrease in cancer (lung/throat) associated with tobacco smoke more than comparable groups that did not have a smoking ban.
5) When the smoking ban was implemented in Windsor, it led to 100s of layoffs in the Casino, and ultimately, the decrease in business was blamed for the decision to be taken over by Caeser 2-3 years later as the losses continued to mount.

So, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that non-urban bars and restaurants will be hurt badly, that bars with an older clientele will suffer more, and that we will see more layoffs and business failures if this goes through.

Forgotten in this is the ancillary construction, maintenance and other services that keep things humming along, as well as the major refurbishments that unprofitable businesses can't do.

The studies and assumptions made by those in favor of a smoking ban are simply a ploy and generally lack credibility.

Have a look at Ireland's experience and see if it applies. After all Ireland is very similar to Michigan in many ways - a few urban areas with a lot of people, and a lot of area inhabited by smaller numbers of people.

I would hate to own a business and then have some one change the law to drive my customers about you? Let the customers and the business owners decide.

Communications guru said...

Sorry, I have to disagree. Please explain to me how 22 percent of the population who still smokes can affect a business so much. I know many people who do not smoke but still like to go to a bar and have drinks. I don’t believe non-smokers will decline to go to a bar simply because a friend has to step outside for 2-3 minutes to burn one. No evidence supports that claim.

If there is “a great deal of evidence to suggest that non-urban bars and restaurants will be hurt badly” I haven’t seen it. I see undocumented opinions, but nothing else. It’s amazing that studies, as well as common sense, keep showing a smoking ban will not hurt business, but people keep clinging to that claim.

Opponents of the ban, like the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, established a web site to stop the ban and continue to use a debunked Texas study to make their false claim it will hurt business.

We have the study “Smoke-Free Workplaces: The Impact of House Bill 4163 on the Restaurant and Bar Industry in Michigan” ( last year that was supervised by former Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, and it changed his mind. He blocked the smoking ban from even being considered when he was the Majority Leader, but now he supports the ban.

So, tell Sikkema, the University of Michigan, Indiana University and Grand Valley State University they all lack credibility.

Fine, let’s look at Ireland. A 2005 report in USA Today ( ) says, “Ireland's smoking ban reaps benefits.” It says “The number of non-smoking bar workers with respiratory problems, such as coughs, has fallen 17%, according to a study published online Monday in BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.”

It also says “The republic's new law has proven popular, even with smokers: 83% of Irish smokers say the law was a "good" or "very good" thing, the study says.”

But then we have their equivalent of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, The Vintners Federation of Ireland, that claims “ the ban has led to declining sales and has cost some bar workers their jobs.” More opinions with zero proof.

According to a 2004 BBC article,
"The research indicates the number of non-smokers visiting pubs and bars has increased slightly since the introduction of the new law, while the number of smokers has remained the same,” according to chief inspector of the Office of Tobacco Control (OTC) Dave Molloy.

Of course, I would hate to own a business and then have some one change the law to drive my customers away, but that’s simply not the case. We have public health laws in place to protect the health of hospitability workers and their customers. This is just one more.

mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Communications guru said...

That is correct; I have never owned a business, but I don’t see the relevance in this situation, Mr. Maloney.

You have not answered my question. How can 22 percent of the people who still smoke have such an effect on business? Of that 22 percent, few will stop going to bars just because they can’t light up inside.

You say there is ample proof, but I have seen nothing but your opinion. Your claims of people “dying alone and not being found for days, because the routines were broken,” and “the overall consumption of liquor in Ireland has increased, the use of drugs in Ireland in the small towns has increased” is far-fetched at best. Show me some proof of those outrageous claims.

Perhaps you are not aware of this, but we are in a worldwide recession, and many people have lost their jobs. The simple fact is it’s not because of a smoking ban.

Yes, let's talk about the health impact; it’s undisputed. Here is a link to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on secondhand smoke. Also, if you click on the key word “Smoking” on the bottom of this post you will find many studies linking secondhand smoke to all kinds of ailments. Show me one study or scientific evidence to back up your claim that secondhand smoke is not harmful; just one.

As for your separate room scenario, the fact is there is no ventilation system that adequately clears second hand smoke:

Dr. Greg Holzman, the medical officer from the Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH), debunked the myth that the ventilation system will make a difference.
“There has been no ventilation system that clears out secondhand smoke,” he said. “There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke.”

Comparing “Islamic fascists” to public health advocates is disgusting. No one is depriving the minority the right to smoke; it is just limiting their ability to harm the health of others.

You certainly do have “huge organizations behind them” that can fund studies with predetermined outcomes, it’s called the tobacco industry, and they have funded numerous studies that have manipulated the evidence. Hell, they are notorious for that.

Once again, there is non one trying to take anyone rights away.

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