Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Why a statewide smoking ban is wrong

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:37 AM |  

Although I remain opposed to the local smoking bans imposed around the Twin Cities, the following email from a Bloomington American Legion Post illustrates why the patchwork of local ordinances is preferable to a statewide ban.
It is frustrating as we sit in Bloomington with our business eroding down 30%, the bars in Dakota county are having a booming time. The American Legion in Savage is so busy they added 2 bartenders. LaFonda's in Eagan has doubled their business during the day as have many other establishments in Burnsville, Eagan and Mendota Heights.
The inequality created by local smoking bans forces municipalities to face the consequences of their actions. That's tax revenue flowing from Bloomington to Dakota County, Eagan, Mendota Heights and Savage. That's charitable gambling contributions flowing to Savage.

And it's not just bar and restaurant business. If you're driving to Eagan anyway, why not gas up the car in Eagan? Stop and pick up groceries in Savage? Go to a movie near your new favorite bar in Burnsville?

Bloomington officials are going to recapture that unnecessarily lost tax revenue somewhere. The needs once served by civic contributions from veterans organizations and service clubs are going to met somehow. The homeowners of Bloomington are going to pay for the smoking ban one way or another.

It would be wrong for the state to prevent the market from punishing Bloomington, Hennepin County and other local jurisdictions for their officials' blunders and deprive other municipalities from capitalizing on market demands.

But then, the best way to "prove" a smoking ban doesn't hurt business is not to test the theory.