Friday, December 10, 2004

READER RESPONSE -- Smoking bans hurt bars and pubs

Posted by Craig Westover | 5:16 PM |  

Sue Jeffers of Stub and Herb's, longtime University of Minnesota campus bar, sends along this press release from the Canadian Hospitality Industry. For more on the impact of smoking bans, check out the file cabinet.

More than 70% of bars and pubs hurt by New Brunswick smoking ban

FREDERICTON, NB, Dec. 9 /CNW/ - New Brunswick's smoking ban is having a negative impact on the province's bars, pubs, taverns, legions and nightclubs, with 71% reporting a sharp decline in liquor sales during the first month of the ban, which took effect October 1, 2004.

The result is from a comprehensive survey sent by the Canadian Restaurant
and Foodservices Association (CRFA) to liquor-licensed establishments across
New Brunswick, including restaurants, bars, pubs, legions, nightclubs,
billiard halls, bowling alleys and private clubs. The association received
223 completed surveys evenly split among licensed restaurants (32.5%), pubs
and bars (34.0%), and other licensed establishments (33.5%) including
nightclubs, legions, bowling alleys and billiard halls. With a sample of this
size, the results are considered accurate to within (+/-) 7.0 percentage
points, 19 times out of 20.

The smoking ban is having a devastating impact on the small businesses
that dominate the pub, bar, tavern and nightclub sector of the hospitality
industry. Fully 79% of drinking establishments report the smoking ban is
having an impact and 71% say the impact is negative. Pubs, bars and taverns
report an average decline in liquor sales of 23.9% in October compared to a
year earlier, nightclubs a decline of 34.5% and legions a decline of 18.8%.

The frustration felt by many New Brunswick hospitality business owners is
highlighted by written comments on many of the completed surveys:

"Had I known that the government was going to cut my business in half, I wouldn't have spent $45,000 on renovations."
(Lounge, Moncton)

"Customers are staying home rather than standing outside."
(Pub, Miramichi)

"Many customers now eat and run, leaving to smoke in their vehicles instead of staying to have a second beverage."
(Pub, Saint John)

"My restaurant has been non-smoking for three years but less customers are coming to the bar before or after eating."
(Restaurant & Bar, Grand Bay)

"Where are all the non-smokers who said that they would go out to eat more often if there weren't any smoke?"
(Bar & Grill, Campbellton)

"Well ventilated smoking rooms should be allowed."
(Bowling Alley, Cap-Pele)

"We have New Brunswick's biggest native reserve 4 kilometres away where smoking is allowed. My liquor sales are down 40%."
(Bar, Richibucto)

"I had to hire two more bouncers for cigarette surveillance."
(Nightclub, Grand Falls)

"Our business has seriously declined. The smokers say that instead of being forced outdoors they would prefer to drink their beer at home where they can smoke."
(Bar, St. Francois)

"Bar sales are suffering the most. Food sales are off and didn't increase as critics suggested."
(Restaurant & Bar, Saint John)

"Liquor sales are off 75%. I will be forced to close if smoking ban is not lifted."
(Bar, Burnt Church)

(Pub, Fredericton)

The survey reveals that the impact of the smoking bans is substantially
different for restaurants than it is for pubs, bars, taverns and nightclubs.
An even 50.0% of restaurants report no impact from the smoking ban, with many
noting they voluntarily stopped smoking in their dining rooms before the
legislation was introduced. Another 15.2% of restaurants say the ban is
positive for business, while 22.7% say it is hurting sales and 12.1% aren't
sure whether or not the smoking ban is having an impact.

New Brunswick's smoking ban was rushed through the provincial legislature
earlier this year without public hearings. "The industry presented a
comprehensive plan that would have protected customers and employees from
exposure to second-hand smoke while mitigating the impact on small business,"
says Luc Erjavec, CRFA's Vice President, Atlantic Canada. "The government
chose to ignore a reasonable solution with the result that businesses are
suffering and job losses are resulting from this heavy-handed legislation."

The CRFA advocates indoor air quality standards that protect customers
and employees from exposure to second-hand smoke. The provinces of Nova
Scotia, PEI, and British Columbia, together with scores of municipalities like
Calgary and Toronto, permit properly ventilated designated smoking rooms
(DSRs) which have saved many small businesses from bankruptcy.