2011/01/29: “New study: Bars and restaurants did well in Smoke-free Wisconsin cities”

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After seeing this report earlier this year I wanted to verify that it wasn’t likely to be found flawed after publishing it on the mogasp blog. Dr. Michael Siegel, Associate Chairman, Social & Behavioral Sciences
Professor, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, provided reassurance that it was a reliable study in his e-mail reply below:

From: Dr. Mike Siegel
Subject: RE: New study: Bars and restaurants did well in Smoke-free Wisconsin cities
Date: January 30, 2011 3:28:51 PM CST
To: [MoGASP]

The study looks solid to me.
The only studies which tend to be problematic it seems are those which look at the effect of smoke-free laws on heart attacks. The economic studies are generally solid.


The newspaper article is pasted in full below, together with a link to the study itself.

New study: Bars and restaurants did well in Smoke-free Wisconsin cities
Milwaukee Courier 29 JANUARY 2011

Analysis shows ordinances enacted before state law did not harm hospitality industry

Roughly six months into Wisconsin’s statewide smokefree law, a new study offers further proof that getting the smoke out is good for health and good for business.
         The study, done by the UW Carbone Cancer Center, compared economic data between five Wisconsin cities that enacted smoke-free ordinances before the statewide law and similar cities where workplace smoking was still permitted.
         The results showed bars and restaurants in the smokefree cities continued to do well under the ordinances. In fact, in virtually every smokefree community the number of Class B alcohol licenses increased after the ordinances took effect and employment remained strong despite the recession.
         “This is excellent news for employers and employees in the hospitality industry,” said Gail Sumi, Wisconsin Government Relations director for the American Cancer Society.
         “This study, like dozens of similar studies nationwide, offers more proof that going smoke-free does not pit business against health, but rather is a common sense health law that keeps workers and employers both physically and fiscally healthy.”
         The study looked at a number of factors in Madison, Appleton, Eau Claire, Marshfield and Fond du Lac including:

The number of alcohol licenses issued to bars and restaurants
The number of establishments operating before and after the ordinance
The number of employees in the year before the ordinance took effect and the following years after

         Despite the significant economic recession of 2008, the study found the hospitality industry to be the most economically successful industry in the smoke-free cities. Employment in the industry remained high and overall there were no significant differences in economic trends between those with and without smokefree ordinances.
         “Today’s study coupled with state data showing widespread compliance with the new law is encouraging. It shows the law is working to protecting workers from the serious health effects of secondhand smoke exposure while still enabling businesses to adapt and thrive,” said Sumi. “Wisconsin really is better smoke-free.”

To see the full study please visit: http://sep.uwcarbone.wisc.edu/

Popular Interests In This Article: American Cancer Society, Hospitality Businesses, SmokeFree Wisconsin, UW Carbone Cancer Center

6 responses to “2011/01/29: “New study: Bars and restaurants did well in Smoke-free Wisconsin cities”

  1. While I have great respect for the integrity of Dr Siegel, I have to look at this with a jaundice eye. The Carbone Cancer Center pretty much puts it’s rubber stamp on what ever Smoke Free Wisconsin sends it and if you read the report Smoke free was involved. If you look at the study after that one you will find another study done by Smoke Free where they inappropriately used EPA Standards.

    Neither study was peer reviewed and this study was not done by an economist. The number of licenses or the number of employees does not indicate how well a bar is doing. Most bars have one bartender on duty while they are open regardless of the number of patrons. The only true test is to look at the books of the actual businesses. The vast majority of them will tell you that the profits are way down.

    Marshall P Keith

    mogasp comment: Thanks for pointing out that this is not a peer-reviewed study, as I had assumed. That potentially weakens its impact, since peer-review, while it cannot guarantee against fraud or poor science, does reduce those possibilities.

  2. I looked at the study. there is no data regarding income of employees or retail sales in bars or restaurants given. Although i agree that compaered to non ban areas, employment was not impacted, the authors simply do not show that business did not suffer. Overall, one cannot conclude one way or the other, if businesses did well in smoke-free cities in Wisconsin from this study.

  3. If bans were “improving business” as ban advocates claim, then why is a law still needed? If the ban was lifted, would bartenders turn around and say, “Hey, let’s return to the old way where we didn’t make so much of this nasty smelly money?”

    If anti-smokers were telling the truth, there would be no need to enforce the law: Business owners would continue with bans while enjoying more money. The improvement of business is a simple statistical lie, just as many of the bases upon which the ban was passed are also lies.

  4. Dave,
    You are correct, there was absolutely no economic information in the report.
    They made a lot of excuses for why they didn’t,such as;

    “State tax returns only include the amount of tax paid.
    Obviously, many factors including debt, losses and disclosed income in a business where a substantial portion of the business is transacted in cash make taxes paid an unreliable indicator.”

    The Problem with that statement is that those numbers would show a trend, my guess is those numbers were not favorable and therefore omitted. As I pointed out the number of employees means nothing as a bar usually only has one employee per shift. It is impossible to work with less and keep your doors open. Licenses are equally useless. A bar can be closed for two years and still maintain the license. So again the study proves nothing.

    Marshall P Keith

  5. I obtained all NACIS 722 data for states for 2006, and all total retail sales data as well. ( US Dept of Commerce) I calculated the ratio of NACIS 722 over total retail for each state–then i could average them. 23 states had some kind of ban, 27 did not. The average ratio for ban- states was 8% lower than non-ban states. this means 8% less consumer willingness to spend in bars and restaurants when bans are present. People tended to spend more elsewhere when bans were present.

  6. also, problem : the title “Bars and restaurants did well…….” is misleading,,they only studied employment in bar-restaurants…. not in bar-only type establishments.

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