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Nicotine Nannies claim smoking bans are good for business. But if that were the case, could this list exist, and could it be so huge? (Please note, this is only a small sample of articles available on the subject.)

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The Smoking Ban: Clear Air, Murky Economics

Sunday, December 28th, 2003

Nine months later, the impact is hardly so clear cut. An examination of government data, public polls, private surveys and interviews with customers, employees and owners of more than three dozen bars and restaurants around the city shows the law having an impact on some businesses, but certainly not on all.

Many bar owners and managers say the smoking ban has hurt business, eroding profits and, in some cases, forcing them to cut back hours or lay off workers. Others say they have seen virtually no effect.

Happy-hour sales on Friday nights at the Whiskey Ward on the Lower East Side have dropped to barely $100, from $600, a co-owner says, and regulars have disappeared along with the ashtrays.

A co-owner of Patroon, a steakhouse in Midtown, says he no longer sees much of a cigar-puffing, after-dinner crowd. And in the meatpacking district, the owner of Hogs & Heifers, where Julia Roberts was once enticed to dance on the bar, says she is considering laying off four employees.

”It’s harder to keep track of everybody going in and out,” said Chuck Zeilfelder, a bartender at Bourbon Street in Bayside, Queens, who opposes the ban. ”It’s common for people to leave money on the bar, and that becomes an issue — how much they left. Also, people leave their drinks on the bar and go out. The drinks get thrown out, and then you have to buy them another round on the house.”

The city chapters of the New York State Restaurant Association mailed out a survey to more than 900 members and found that 88 of the 115 city businesses that responded said they had a decline in bar sales since the smoking ban, and 58 said they had a decline in food sales. In addition, 76 reported that their employees had an unfavorable reaction to the ban, while 18 reported a favorable reaction.

Similarly, an October study commissioned by the Vintners Federation of Ireland interviewed 300 bars and nightclubs in the New York region and found that 66 percent reported fewer customers since the smoking ban, while 15 percent reported more. In all, 78 percent said the impact of the ban on their businesses had been negative.

Sales representatives for wine and liquor companies say the impact has trickled down to them. They say business has dropped between 20 percent and 40 percent since the smoking ban. Similarly, an association for operators of jukeboxes, pinball machines and other games says that revenues have fallen between 10 and 25 percent at bars and nightclubs in New York City.

Owners and employees reported selling fewer drinks and losing customers before dessert. They complained of the need to watch over drinks and money left on the bar and seats left unoccupied by patrons heading out for a smoke. And bartenders said that tips were down, as were overall tabs, and that longtime customers were resorting to alternatives — hotel rooms, private homes and parks — to indulge their smoking and drinking.

Amy Sacco, owner of Lot 61 and Bungalow 8 in West Chelsea, said she had to hire an extra security guard just to make sure the smoking crowd outside does not become unruly. ”It makes the job very unhappy,” Ms. Sacco said. ”Next thing you know, it’s prohibition for cocktails. We’re all responsible for policing it. It’s such a drag.”

Source: New York Times. Link

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