While the smoking ban in New York City may not have hurt New York’s economy significantly. The case is different in Lakeland, Ohio:
For today’s lesson, let’s go to our more educated brethren in Toledo.
That city enacted a ban in 2003. Within a year, roughly 20 bars closed. Business bottomed so hard that when they auctioned off liquor licenses — the gold standard of the street-level economy — no one showed up to bid.
Arnie Elzey owns a sizable sports bar, the kind with theater seating and NFL Ticket. His place used to be packed. Then came the ban.
His sales plummeted by 40 percent; his employee ranks fell with it. Twelve workers qualified for unemployment. Another 10 quit because they couldn’t get the shifts. He started closing for lunch, and his happy hour died. “People would come in for one drink and then leave,” he says. “People go outside to smoke and they don’t come back.”
Meanwhile, 10 minutes away in Michigan, where cigs and bars had yet to divorce, business boomed. The most crushing evidence came on Super Bowl Sunday last year. Elzey’s place, which once flourished on any game day, was at just two-thirds capacity. In Michigan, however, people waited in lines to get in the door. “Seventy percent of the cars in the parking lot were from Ohio,” he says.
Most neighborhood joints ignored the law. “They’d have someone watching the door,” says Elzey, as if they’d been transplanted to the days of Prohibition. So police, much to their chagrin, were dispatched to bust people for Illegal Use of Ashtray. In terms of burning public resources, it was akin to sending out squads on jaywalking stings. “The cops don’t want to do it because it’s stupid,” says Elzey. “They sit there and they shake their heads.”
Give Toledo credit. It took only a year for it to reach that inevitable “Oh, shit!” moment. Last fall, voters repealed much of the ban.
This story was found at Radley Balko’s site. In general, I don’t believe smoking bans are a good idea even if they have no negative economic effect. But when they result in an economic hardship for the community, it seems pretty clear the policy is doing more harm than good. If you want to fight the smoking ban in New York State, here is a petion to end the ban.