2013-08-08 P-D: “Smoking ban would not hurt state’s bars and restaurants, report says”

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Today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch had an article by reporter Blythe Bernhard, at the top of the Health section on page B1, about a report concluding that bars and restaurants in Missouri would not suffer a decline in business from a statewide smoke-free air law. That conclusion would be in line with the one focusing just on casinos, and comparing those in smoke-free Illinois with neighboring casinos in Missouri and other border states allowing smoking, on which we’ve reported here before. (See “Smoking ban didn’t hurt Illinois casinos, study says”.)

An article about the study in today’s Post-Dispatch is featured on the CDC Foundation website titled: “Largest Study to Date Finds State Smoke-Free Laws Would Not Hurt Restaurant and Bar Business“. The states studied were Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

According to the above CDC website: A separate component of the project resulted in videos featuring testimonials from restaurant and bar operators in the first eight of these states. The videos can be viewed at www.youtube.com/smokefreebusiness. (I didn’t spot one from Missouri but if you do please let me know.)

At the end of the Post-Dispatch article Dr. Michael Siegel, who supports smoke-free air policies and also maintains the blog The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary, criticizes the study because it was funded by a drug company.

I understand Dr. Siegel’s concern but the same charge could be leveled at the independent study Missouri GASP funded into casino revenues, referenced above. My answer in our case is that the researcher leading the study, Dr. Jeanine Harris, was asked to be scrupulous in her investigation and provide only irrefutable and objective conclusions. I would hope that was also the case for the study featured in the article below.

Bill Hannegan is quoted as saying that “the property rights of that mom and pop tavern owner are violated,” which is the same argument heard repeatedly from people who single out smoking as a behavior that deserves special protection. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way, baby, from the time we were expected to tolerate this polluting behavior in the workplace.

Smoking ban would not hurt state’s bars and restaurants, report says

By Blythe Bernhard bbernhard@post-dispatch.com 314-340-812960

Missouri bars and restaurants would not suffer under a statewide smoking ban, according to new research.
         Illinois and 28 other states prohibit smoking in restaurants, bars and other public indoor places. While several cities have strict smoke-free laws in Missouri, including Kirkwood, Creve Coeur, Clayton, Ballwin and Brentwood, there is no statewide law. St. Louis and St. Louis County have some restrictions that smoke-free advocates say could be improved because there are exemptions for some bars and casinos.
         A common argument against smoke-free laws is that it reduces revenue and employment in restaurants and bars. The authors of the paper disagree, finding no adverse economic effects on restaurants or bars in smoke-free areas. The researchers studied eight states, including Missouri, without statewide laws to see whether a smoking ban would hurt local businesses.
         Using sales and tobacco tax data from 216 cities and counties over 11 years, the researchers projected that seven of the states would have no economic impact, and West Virginia would see a 1 percent boost in restaurant jobs if a statewide smoking ban was adopted. Other benefits of smoking bans in bars and restaurants include improved lung function and a decrease in smoking rates among staff. Some data came from the Missouri Department of Revenue after smoking bans were passed in Lake Saint Louis, Kirkwood, Clayton and Ballwin.
         “We found that smoke-free laws had no adverse impact on employment in restaurants or bars,” said Brett Loomis, lead author and a research economist at RTI, a North Carolina think tank. “Similarly, sales in Missouri eating and drinking establishments were not affected by smoke-free laws.”
         Little research is available on competition between border states like Missouri and Illinois that have different smoking laws. Loomis said one study on neighboring counties in Ohio and smoke-free Kentucky found no effect on businesses in either state.
         The research shows that going smoke-free would not be harmful to Missouri bars and restaurants, said Pierce Nelson, a spokesman for the foundation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “More generally, smoke-free laws have health benefits that extend to the entire population of the communities where they are adopted,” he said.
         The study was funded by the CDC Foundation through a grant from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. It was published in the August issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the CDC.
         Smoking ban opponent Bill Hannegan said his concerns are with the small bar owners who can’t afford or don’t have space for smoking patios.
         “The overall industry doesn’t shrink, but the property rights of that mom and pop tavern owner are violated,” said Hannegan, director of Keep St. Louis Free. “The report in itself doesn’t mean if you own a bar and a smoking ban is coming that you’re not in trouble.”
         Pfizer markets the drug Chantix, which is designed to help people quit smoking. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health, has questioned the funding of the study, saying the partnership with drug companies taints the CDC’s objectivity and is a disservice to the public.

17 responses to “2013-08-08 P-D: “Smoking ban would not hurt state’s bars and restaurants, report says”

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Faxs5_BiH2w  Smoke Free Missouri Video

    mogasp comment: Thanks for this link, David. I was unable to find it.


  2. Actually, I believe the largest such study was the one carried out by Dave Kuneman with my assistance back around 2005 and available at http://tinyurl.com/BanLosses

    Granted, we never carried through on getting it journal-published. Our experience with the BMJ in which our quite valid (and later fully supported by the RAND/Stanford published study of similar size) study of AMIs was dismissed as “adding nothing new to what is already known” even though it flatly contradicted the Helena study that the BMJ had published with much fanfare a year earlier had somewhat blunted our energies for seeking such formal recognition. (See “A Study Delayed” at ACSH: http://web.archive.org/web/20120203233217/http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.990/news_detail.asp and the study itself at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/9679507/bmjmanuscript )

    In addition to Rand/Stanford, Marlow’s, Mathews’, and Rodu’s studies supported our economic conclusions.

    – MJM

    mogasp comment: I appreciate your input, Michael. I suspect the truth is a little complicated, depending on a particular business and its location/clientele, and how long it takes for people’s behavior to adapt to changes in the law. I still don’t believe anyone should have to jeopardize their health simply to work in a bar, restaurant, or even a casino. Smoke-free is now the norm for the office workspace. It should apply universally. And it’s not good enough to say “If the smoke bothers you find somewhere else to work.”

  3. Re mogast comment to MJM: I don’t believe the gov’t should be trying to change an entire populations behavior to accommodate others who will never step foot in the door.
    This is the press release the CDC and CDC Foundation put out November 30, 2011 announcing this future study. When a federal government agency announces the outcome of a study before the study begins, that’s fraud.
    Now for a kicker, the CDC funded illegal lobbying! http://www.recovery.gov/espsearch/Pages/default.aspx?k=smoke-free

    Nearly $3 million to “The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Office of Tobacco Control (OTC) will utilize funding to engage in a two-year campaign that will result in the passage and implementation of a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free air law”.

    $1.22 million in NC “North Carolina, with the leadership of the Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch (TPCB) in NC DPH, will build support for comprehensive statewide policies for smoke-free workplaces and public places by January 2012. TPCB will serve as a resource for both seasoned and new partners to build public, media, and legislative support for a comprehensive smoke-free law”.

    $16 million to the county of Los Angeles “Implement a coordinated community action plan comprised seven interventions, including multi faceted media campaign, comprehensive smoke free outdoor air policies, smoke free multi unit housing policies, point of purchase marketing restriction, cigarette butt litter free policies, a policy and smoking cessation initiative targeting schools, and smoking cessation initiative targeting social service agencies.

    $1.3 million to Michigan “The MDCH Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control has received CDC Recovery Act funding for all three components. In component I, the first policy focus is implementation of a comprehensive state-wide smoke-free air law. Initially, strategies will support passage of a smoke-free bill and subsequently will promote compliance and evaluation of the smoke-free air law.”

    mogasp comment: Marlene, the word count in the above comment is 2,129, way over the 1,000 character limit that Michael McFadden scrupulously follows, for example. However, since you’ve not submitted a comment in a long time, I’ll allow it. Please stick to that requirement in future though.

  4. ” No one has the right to make health choices for others and no one has a right to demand rights to the detriment of others, especially with the convenience of a lie, as we find in the “toxic effect of second hand smoke”.

    mogasp comment: I agree with everything you write as it applies to smokers and the tobacco industry, which have fought smoke-free air laws consistently. The only thing where I disagree is your impugning the science of secondhand smoke, and by extension everyone who is adversely affected by exposure to it in public places and the workplace.

  5. MoGasp, you wrote, “I still don’t believe anyone should have to jeopardize their health simply to work in a bar, restaurant, or even a casino.”

    We’ve had this discussion before MG! You’re misstating your position. You have absolutely refused to say that workers shouldn’t have to jeopardize their health simply to work in a bar/restaurant/casino offering daytime patio service, which many of them do, and which, therefore by the same reasoning that applies to voluntary smoking bans, “forces” those workers to jeopardize their health.

    Note: I am *not* asking MoGasp as an organization to come out with a position on this: I am asking YOU, personally, if you feel those workers should be forced to jeopardize their health in such a way. Be aware though, if you say “No” then you’re on record as saying you feel patio dining should be banned.

    The alternative is to say that you have these beliefs about workers’ health ONLY when it applies to smoking issues.

    Thnx4noticingmycharactercounting ;>

    – MJM

    mogasp reply: Michael, I believe that restaurant and bar patios should also be smoke-free but that’s a tough sell. My views on subjects unrelated to SHS are generally not, in my view, relevant to this blog, which is why I don’t address them.

  6. MoGasp, if you were truly concerned about the well-being of those workers, wouldn’t their lives be worth your typing just the five words “Patio Dining Should Be Banned”? You believe laws protecting workers should be based upon the no-safe-level-of-carcinogens concept. That is your basis for backing universal smoking bans in workplaces regardless of such things as levels of ventilation.

    For consistency, that same no-safe-level concept would have to be applied in other areas where carcinogenic exposures are neither inherent nor necessary to the job… such as daytime serviced dining outdoors as opposed to indoors. You don’t actually need to publicly state a position you realize: unless you are operating from an openly inconsistent platform, your position on patio dining, even if you do not state it, HAS to be in favor of a total ban.

    Otherwise you’re being inconsistent and your basic argument on smoking bans would be worthless. I’m sorry, but I see no other way around it.

    – MJM

    mogasp reply: Sorry, but I don’t see your point, Michael. I am somewhat skeptical of the argument that “there is no known safe level of exposure to SHS.” However, I have concluded from personal studies and my own and other people’s subjective experience that ventilation is not a satisfactory alternative to smoke-free policies.

  7. Mogasp, regardless of the word count, you have no defense to my comment?

    mogasp reply: I noted that I was willing to allow your comment, but that doesn’t obligate me to reply to it. Be grateful for having your point of view aired.

  8. This is how grateful I am:
    The Hegelian dialectical formula: A (thesis) versus B (anti-thesis) equals C (synthesis).
    For example: If (A) my idea of freedom conflicts with (B) your idea of freedom then (C) neither of us can be free until everyone agrees to be a slave.
    Perhaps you would like to read up on Hegel! http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/dialectic.htm

  9. Mogasp, that is not a point of view, it is indeed fact that there is rampant fraud in the anti-smoking movement and you are complicit. A needed tool in their scheme. However, I would still like to know what you think of this fraud!

  10. From Table 3 of the CDC report, it looks like Missouri restaurants did suffer a 16% decline plus or minus 20% and Missouri bars -57% plus or minus 35%. With such high degrees of statistical uncertaiinity, how can the authors draw any conclusions at all? To me, if you take their median values, it looks like bans are bad for business in Missouri. But the report is so poorly written, it’s hard to understand. and raw data is omitted so that readers can’t draw their own conclusions.

  11. Well, we’re in at least partial agreement on NSL (no safe level), although I think “somewhat skeptical” should be stated more strongly. Would you be simply “somewhat skeptical” that walking through a sunbeam from a curtained window was a “risk”? Because that’s what “no safe level” boils down to. Beyond that it’s all a matter of degrees and accepting various levels of risk because of what people desire. And once you move to that area then “people’s subjective experience” which drives market forces should significantly impact decisions.

    Thus, despite the well-known risks of solar radiation, patio dining should be allowed, even though innocent young workers might be “forced” to work at such jobs, and similarly, smoking in bars should be allowed — although in both cases it would be reasonable for government to regulate reasonable safety standards (provision of awnings, prohibition of requirements to wear uniforms exposing skin surface, ventilation meeting OSHA requirement,etc)

    – MJM

    mogasp response: As I may have suggested before, if you have the time and energy to pursue your concern over workers having to work outdoors in some professions – and there are many – good luck to you.

  12. True enough there are MANY outdoor jobs, just as there are many where workers are exposed to various airborne pollutants. The antismoking justification for ignoring those has always been that the exposures are “inherent and necessary” to the occupation: i.e. there is no such thing as fume-free welding or frying or traffic-copping, etc. But Antismokers say smoking is neither inherent nor necessary to drinking/dining. They are correct — but the same is true for patio service.

    I think you missed my point: I explicitly do *NOT* want to eliminate those workers: I feel workers on patios or in Free Choice bars/restaurants have made a choice of exposure to certain putative levels of risk quite willingly in order to work where they and their employers feel their profits/earnings are enhanced by the choice: sunny/smoky, or shady/indoors or smoke-free, or simply where they enjoy the atmosphere

    – MJM
    PS I wrote Dr. Loomis (CDC) on Aug. 8th with 6 polite and specific questions. No response yet.

    mogasp comment: Speaking for myself, although others who are smoke-sensitive would probably also agree, when I patronize a smoke-free restaurant, as I did recently, I still choose to dine indoors because the outdoor dining area is not designated as “No Smoking.” I would likewise eschew a sidewalk dining area, even one designated as “No Smoking” because of it’s proximity to that sidewalk where someone with a lighted cigarette can walk past. This has nothing to do with “no safe level of exposure to SHS.” It has everything to do with SHS as a public nuisance.

  13. It seems mogasp is making a CHOICE to not dine on a patio, it should also be a CHOICE for an owner to allow it INSIDE if he or she so CHOOSES. The owner pays the bills, utilities, the mortgage. The public is accountable for nothing.
    mogasp comment: Two different “CHOICES.” The owner is required to abide by all sorts of safety and health regulations that don’t apply to the patron of a place of business. I would like the option of dining outdoors if I could be assured a smoke-free environment, but I’m not.

  14. So MoGasp, wouldn’t your choices, and ours, be better accommodated by having some places with bans indoors, some with bans outdoors, some with neither, and some with both? (Before you wave the workers, consider the ASHRAE-approved concept of separately ventilated rooms without workers.)

    – MJM

    mogasp comment: Personally, I don’t rely on ASHRAE on SHS issues. They’re ventilation engineers, not health and safety experts.

  15. If they can ventilate the cooking fumes out of the kitchen, they can ventilate the smoke out of the dining area. Smoke and kitchen fumes both have to obey all the laws of nature. If it works for one, it works for the other. A major combustion product for smoking is carbon monoxide and very sensitive CO detectors exist which work in the kitchen, and smokers in the dining rooms never seem to set them off. Yes, ventilation engineers know what they are doing in the kitchen, and nobody denies it. So why not in the dining room?’

    mogasp comment: You’re deliberating missing the point. An eating establishment is where you go to eat, and if there are harmful fumes from cooking it’s appropriate to have regulations to reduce them as much as possible. What has that to do with smoking in the dining area which has nothing to do with dining? Should we also allow diners to fling knives or forks across the room?

  16. MoGasp, you wrote, “I don’t rely on ASHRAE on SHS issues. They’re ventilation engineers, not health and safety experts.”

    Actually I partially agree with you on that, but it brings up an interesting question: If you look through ASHRAE materials, through all the extreme hazards that they deal with that have indeed instantly killed thousands of people right on the spot from fumes over the decades, I believe you will find NO claims about their guidelines being inadequate for health… EXCEPT for ETS claims where I believe they make the (IMHO) silly statement about “cognizant authorities say…(or whatever)”. Why do you think that is? My answer would lie in the area of the extreme lobbying power of an absurdly over-empowered antismoking establishment.

    And, even WITH whatever pressures resulted in that statement, they STILL held to the concept of separated rooms being fine… just as they hold to it for kitchens and furnace/heating fumes.

    Not exactly a “Level Playing Field,” eh?

    – MJM

    mogasp comment: At one time ASHRAE was nobbled by the tobacco industry, and their standards reflected that. I don’t recall the details now though.

  17. Btw, Dr. Loomis has STILL not answered the quite reasonable questions I put to him almost THREE WEEKS AGO about his study that you did this primary blog entry on. I would say that his unwillingness to address such questions should be taken as an invalidation of his research. I would like to publish a critique of his study, or at least lay out those questions for others to see in a blog entry here of roughly equal size for fair balance. If you wanted to write him first to verify that indeed his email address is correct and that he is unwilling to address those questions via email I’d be happy to share his addy with you.

    Re ASHRAE: think it went both ways but also don’t have the details. Maybe someone else here does?

    – MJM

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