Smoking ban’s effect on bars needs study
A report commissioned by the state has concluded that restrictions on smoking have not hurt the visitor industry.
Bar owners have complained that a state smoking ban that was extended to their establishments in late 2006 has been bad for business. A report by the state Department of Health maintains that it has not hurt Hawaii's visitor industry but has failed to address the bar owners' concerns. A more precise study is needed.
A report prepared for the department by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., found that the food and beverage sector of Hawaii's tourism industry gained 212 more employees and 1,541 jobs since the law went into effect. It also said the state's overall visitor spending, including that by visitors from Japan, was comparable last year to the previous year, although declining slightly.
Unfortunately, the report does not include data from the Honolulu Liquor Commission because it did not fall within the time period needed to evaluate the law's effect. The Health Department should examine Liquor Commission data at the earliest opportunity to determine the ban's effect.
In a legislative hearing in January, bar owners contended that the ban has cost them revenue. One said the no-smoking law has cut his business in half, resulting in a $65,000 loss last year. Bar owners have sought an entire exemption from the ban.
The health risk caused by secondhand smoke justifies a ban, although the Hawaii law is too broad by including open-air sections, where secondhand smoke poses little or no risk.
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