Ban of bothers
ADVOCATES and opponents of smoking bans in restaurants have been trading statistics for years over the financial effect of bans.Supporters claim bans have affected the bottom line at restaurants and bars – in a positive manner.Sales and employment at Oklahoma restaurants have increased since restaurants were required to physically separate smoking and non-smoking areas, a report from the state Health Department says. Whether the increases would have occurred anyway is impossible to say.
Since 2006, restaurants that allow smoking have been required to provide separate and well-ventilated areas for smokers. Most restaurants made the decision to go smoke-free, and that decision has apparently not resulted in a loss of business.
Campaigns for and against public smoking have been accompanied by grave predictions of financial declines. A group opposing a smoking ban in Chicago several years ago cited dire financial results of bans from around the globe.
But the Health Department report says that hasn’t been the case in Oklahoma. The report will likely bolster attempts to make the smoking ban inclusive – meaning restaurants that went to the expense of building smoking rooms would have done so in vain. The owner of Cattleman’s Steak House in Oklahoma City, for example, spent $33,000 for a smoking room. That’s not small change. Lawmakers should tread carefully in considering a total ban.