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Archive for Friday, July 1, 2005

Supporters, opponents calculate first year’s cost of smoking ban

July 1, 2005

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More food, less drink.

New sales tax numbers suggest the landscape of Lawrence's restaurant and bar industry has shifted from alcohol to food sales since the city's smoking ban began one year ago today.

"I think what this shows is that we've made our community healthier and we haven't hurt the economy of Lawrence one bit," said Judy Keller, executive director of the American Lung Association of Kansas and a chief supporter of the city ordinance, which bans indoor smoking at virtually all Lawrence workplaces.

But to some in the city's hospitality industry, the numbers are evidence of a broken promise.

Phil Bradley, executive director of the Lawrence-based Kansas Licensed Beverage Assn., said drink tax numbers are down 1.7 percent from July 2004 to March 2005, which are the most recent numbers available.

"The speakers in favor of this extreme ban told city commissioners that they virtually could guarantee that this ban would not affect these businesses," Bradley said. "These numbers clearly show that it did."

Mike Klinger, Lawrence, steps just outside the door at Conroy's Pub, 3115 W. Sixth St., to smoke a cigarette. The city's smoking ban is one year old today, yet many are still divided on the issue. Klinger patronized Conroy's on Thursday.

Mike Klinger, Lawrence, steps just outside the door at Conroy's Pub, 3115 W. Sixth St., to smoke a cigarette. The city's smoking ban is one year old today, yet many are still divided on the issue. Klinger patronized Conroy's on Thursday.

Debate continues

Ban supporters, though, aren't ready to concede that point.

They said that there are other factors that could have produced the drink tax decline. The biggest may have been the Kansas University basketball team's loss to Bucknell University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Without the drop in March, Dr. Steve Bruner, a proponent of the smoking ban, said drink tax numbers were down only 0.4 percent for the year.

"It looks like to me that one basketball game had four times more of an effect in one month than the smoking ban did in eight months," Bruner said.

Ban supporters said the numbers also showed that some businesses likely had the smoking ban to thank for improved sales.

General sales tax numbers for the restaurant sector improved by 11.6 percent during the same period, or about three times faster than sales tax collections for the overall Lawrence economy.

Jeff Webb, owner of Jefferson's, 743 Mass., estimated that sales were up 5 percent to 10 percent following implementation of the ban.

"We're getting a lot more families with children," Webb said. "For every one person who complains about it to me, I have nine who say that they love it."










Kansas cities with smoking bans

¢ Salina: April 2002 ban that prohibits smoking in restaurants. ¢ Overland Park: May 2003 ban that prohibits smoking in fast-food restaurants. ¢ Lyons: July 2003 ban that prohibits smoking in restaurants. ¢ Lawrence: July 2004 ban that prohibits smoking in virtually all workplaces. ¢ Hutchinson: July 2004 ban that prohibits smoking in restaurants. ¢ Spring Hill: December 2004 ordinance that requires certain signs regarding smoking. ¢ Concordia: May ban that prohibits smoking in all workplaces except bars. ¢ Abilene: June ban that prohibits smoking in all workplaces except bars. Source: American Lung Association of Kansas

Relief needed?

Count Sarah Long, Lawrence, among those who love it. Long was downtown Thursday with her son Noah, 1.

"I love being able to go out with him and know that I can go anywhere and not worry about the smoke," Long said.

But several bar owners said they needed some sort of relief.

"It has been terrible," Tom Conroy, owner of Conroy's Pub, 3115 W. Sixth St., said of the last year.

Conroy said he had laid off about a dozen part-time employees in the wake of double-digit sales declines.

Reducing the amount of second-hand smoke that bartenders and wait staff have to endure was a major reason for the ban.

Jay Jamison, a bartender at the Shenago Lounge, 2907 W. Sixth, said he was still around plenty of smoke in his life because he is a smoker and that he's been receiving about 20 percent fewer tips since the ban began.

"We just don't have as many people in here," Jamison said.

But Jamison said the ban had led him to reduce the number of cigarettes he smokes by about three packs per week.

"So, financially it has been nice from that standpoint," Jamison said.

Comments

jordancgeiger 8 years, 9 months ago

there's no proof that you can get AIDS from a public toilet seat either, why risk it?

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jordancgeiger 8 years, 9 months ago

if you google "CRS Report for Congress Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Lung Cancer Risk" you'll find that the Congressional Research Service found that there is no definitive proof that secondhand smoke causes cancer and that the EPA vastly overstated the findings of its 1992 study, the one most often quoted in smoking ban discussions.

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bugmenot 8 years, 9 months ago

If a smoking ban were actually good for the restaurant and bar business, most establishments would have been non-smoking before the ban.

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megorama 8 years, 9 months ago

Smoking does diminish your tastebuds...so I can only assume for most smokers, that yes, indeed the cigarettes are more appetizing than the food.

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blakus 8 years, 9 months ago

If your restaurant lags in sales because your customers can not smoke inside, then your food must be less appetizing than cigarettes. People step beside the point when talking about the smoking ban. With or without the ban, peoples' rights are being restrained. With the ban, people can not choose to kill themselves within public places, restricting their 'freedom'. Without the ban, those who do not smoke and would like to visit an establishment are going to have their right to pursue a healthy lifestyle restricted. Either way, both parties have a choice...... that is something a lot of people forget.

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megorama 8 years, 9 months ago

I don't think anyone can deny not smoking in public is a good thing for everyone...the question remains, "Is it right for the city to legislate it?"

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kuhusker 8 years, 9 months ago

My family eat out much more often now that we know we can go to smoke-free restaurants.

I sympathize with bars that do not sell food...perhaps they should be allowed to permit smoking, but I (and everyone else I have talked to) thinks banning smoking in restaurants is the right thing to do and is good for everybody.

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extreme_makeover 8 years, 9 months ago

PPFFFFFFTTTTT. Regulate that.

(don't give THEM any ideas?)

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muffaletta 8 years, 9 months ago

I don't think the smoking ban is about personal responsibility. The city commission has not instituted an ordinance that disallows smoking within its city limits. The ban is not trying to protect smokers from their poor decision to smoke. It is trying to protect people like me who like to go out and have a good time, but don't want to breathe cigarette smoke all night and go home smelling like an ashtray.

Megorama's idea about making it up to the business owner is a good idea in theory, but I think that in practice it is much better for everyone to have a level playing field.

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megorama 8 years, 9 months ago

I personally enjoy the benefits of the smoking ban. However, I think the decision to be smoke-free should be left to the business owner. Perhaps the city could offer incentives such as tax-breaks to those who choose to implement a smoke-free environment, make it worth it financially instead of forcing the ban.

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neopolss 8 years, 9 months ago

"We're getting a lot more families with children," Webb said. "For every one person who complains about it to me, I have nine who say that they love it."

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Well, the majority agrees with it, so it is obviously the right thing to do. So much for personal responsibility. We'll let the government control our health. Backdoor deals on water contamination, bah! Lobbyists controlling the food pyramid reccomendations - no way! Government ALWAYS has our best interests in mind (end sarcasm).

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macon47 8 years, 9 months ago

hey, no problem man, you can still smoke and drink all you want to at the FLAMINGO. i do not frequent any bars, but i belive it would be in the businesses best interest to allow smoking in bars and NOT eating places. once again, we threw the baby out with the bathwater. thanks to your pin headed city commssioners. as dad used to say, IT'S LIKE BURNING DOWN THE BARN TO GET RID OF RATS

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lunacydetector 8 years, 9 months ago

the ban essentially saved the lives of some workers, because they had to be laid off.

one only hopes these folks found other employment so they can eat to survive.

now THAT'S called 'progress.'

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Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

Last summer was very mild for July and August which meant people were not forced(?) inside to drink beer. No doubt there was some who decided to rebel for awhile. Now the people are back so next years numbers will be the real story. By that time the number of communities implementing smoking bans will also be up. We noticed one of the loudest chat board critics who was stating he would never drink in Lawrence again hanging out in Tellers soon after the ban took effect.

It's time to put this matter to bed.

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Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

We are out more often. The smoking ban is great.

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