Bonus points to Hannegan! He posted a comment on-line AND got it published in yesterday’s Letters column of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hannegan contacted Chad Cotti, PhD., who has done similar estimates before, and got him to estimate the loss in employment in the restaurant and bar business if St. Louis City were to go smoke-free. Needless to say, it shows a large drop in bar employment, so once again scare tactics which would never be considered with another health threat, like asbestos exposure or food poisoning, are being used to argue against secondhand smoke legislation.
Incidentally, Cotti also published a study concluding that smoke-free air laws led to more drunk driving fatalities because smokers would drive further to be able to smoke and drink! [See his web page for a list of smoking-related articles including: “Drunk Driving After the Passage of Smoking Bans in Bars” Journal of Public Economics: Vol. 92, Issues 5-6, June 2008: 1288 -1305 (with Scott Adams).]
Here’s Hannegan’s letter:
Dr. Chad Cotti, a University of Wisconsin economist who specializes in assessing the impacts of smoking bans, has predicted the probable effect of a St. Louis city smoking ban on St. Louis city restaurant and bar employment. Dr. Cotti estimates that the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009 would cut St. Louis city full-service restaurant employment 1.1 percent and bar employment 19.7 percent. Dr. Cotti says that such a large employment drop in the bar industry would be the result not only of layoffs but also the complete closure of some establishments.
Obviously laid-off workers don’t pay the city’s earnings tax and closed bars cease their tax contributions to the city. Why are Alderman Lyda Krewson and Mayor Francis Slay pushing such an economically harmful restriction on businesses — especially at a time when the city is so cash-strapped that 4,000 city employees may soon be asked to take unpaid furloughs and basic city services are being threatened?
Bill Hannegan — St. Louis
Keep St. Louis Free
As I noted in my blog of June 3, I found a recent study on-line “Smoking bans do not cause job losses in bars and restaurants” which disputes the conclusion that smoke-free air laws lead to such loss of business. Lead author of the study, Dr. Elizabeth Klein, assistant professor of health behavior and health promotion at Ohio State University, is quoted as saying:
“In the end we can say there isn’t a significant economic effect by type of clean indoor air policy, which should give us more support for maintaining the most beneficial public health policies.”
Earlier today I visited Hannegan’s blog “KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE! [to pollute your lungs]” and found not only the above letter mentioned but also a link to a new “working paper” by two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis website, posted at http://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/2009/2009-027.pdf
The study is titled: “Casino Revenue and the Illinois Smoking Ban” and its authors are economists Thomas A. Garrett and Michael R. Pakko. It purports to show significant loss of casino revenue directly tied to the Illinois Smoke Free Air Act, which went into effect January 1, 2008.
This is not an officially approved document but by being published on the Federal Reserve website it gives it plenty of credibility. Also, since it’s a “working paper,” it’s not been peer reviewed or published in a journal.
I debated Dr. Michael Pakko, a Libertarian, in St. Louis earlier this year at the event staged by the St. Louis Federalist Society on whether or not St. Louis should go smoke-free. He’s been speaking out against smoke-free air efforts for several years now, presumably motivated by the Libertarian philosophy of minimal government.
The study by Garrett and Pakko is interesting because Missouri GASP has been funding an independent study into this same subject by Jenine Harris, PhD., Assistant Director of Research, Center for Tobacco Policy Research at Saint Louis University School of Public Health.
Her study will compare the impact of different state smoke-free air laws on casino revenues in the adjoining states of Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. Dr. Harris is currently attending the three-day National Conference on Tobacco or Health, Phoenix, AZ, a major tobacco control conference, to report her findings to date under the title “Gambling on clean air: Casinos and the Smoke Free Illinois Act.” [Go here to view conference information and a very effective video.]