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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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Mark W. Benjamin: Statewide smoking ban gave no thought to mental health

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Theater night protests are a challenge to a mean-spiritied, shortsighted law.

Your March 16 editorial panned our Theater Night performances in bars as “a clever but wrongheaded protest” against Minnesota’s smoking ban and sniffed that this is a medical, not economic, issue. We disagree. Your editorial focused on physical health and made no room for mental health.

After the smoking ban took effect Oct. 1, many small bars, Legions and VFW posts experienced a precipitous drop in income. Bar owners laid off waitresses they had known since childhood. Bartenders quit school after losing hours and tips. Former customers retreated to ice shacks
on frozen Minnesota lakes to drink and smoke alone.

Public health is more than physical health — clean air and pink lungs. It is also about mental health — keeping company and green wallets. People who drink and smoke alone, who lose their jobs and businesses do not live as well or as long. They need help, not ridicule. These people are socially isolated and financially stressed. Social and financial health deserves to be part of our public health

Public health pundits grumble that Theater Night disrespects the law and violates its “spirit.” But this law is mean-spirited and disrespects our veterans and small-bar owners. It makes no accommodation for them.

Last spring, the veterans and small bar owners worried they would lose customers. The Legislature assured them they would see more customers when their businesses were smoke-free, a rosy prediction that turned out wrong.

Theater Night is a blessed respite from the economic desert in which some of our small bars were dying. We now have time to address the mistaken assumptions of last spring. We recommend two healthy accommodations for our veterans and small bar owners.

First, our veterans deserve an exemption. They performed valiantly overseas and continue to perform for their communities through charitable giving. But their revenues dried up after Oct. 1. Granting them an exemption will restore those revenues and their charitable giving.

Second, the smoking ban lets scientists study the effects of tobacco smoke as long as their laboratories are ventilated at the rate of 60 cubic feet of air per minute per person. This is a safety standard that our small bar owners are willing to adopt, even at great cost. Granting such an exemption will give them a chance of survival.

Some may be upset by our approach. But all we ask is to be heard on the subject of mental health as an integral component of public health. Until that day, our show will go on.

Source: Start Tribune. Link

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