Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Servers prep to fight city smoking ban

Posted by Craig Westover | 11:53 AM |  

There can be no greater example the sense of moral superiority married to willful ignorance than these comments in response to St. Paul bar employees -- the very people the smoking ban St. Paul smoking ban was imposed to help -- kicking off a campaign to collect signatures to put a rollback the smoking prohibitions that went into effect in March.
The campaign comes as no surprise to Jeanne Weigum, of the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota. She says her organization has been aware of the petitions for more than a month. Weigum said she wasn't surprised that there were complaints about the financial effect of the ban, either.

"Overall, across the country, when legitimate research is done and you look at receipts and taxes, there is either no change or a slight increase when the restrictions go into effect," she said. "The places I go by and the places I go into seem to be quite busy, so if someone's business goes down, there's no way of knowing why for sure. That's why we have research instead of just anecdotes."

A Pioneer Press study of state tax data earlier this year found no significant decline in food and liquor sales in any of the counties or cities where smoking has been restricted since 2004.
Let’s try it again, very slowly: aggregate statistics do not measure the impact of government policy on specific subgroups of the a population. Receipts and taxes paid by the hospitality industry as a whole do not measure the economic impact of smoking bans on specific businesses like neighborhood bars.

It happened in Minneapolis, and it is happening in St. Paul -- neighborhood bars that catered to working class patrons, many of whom smoke or hang with friends that smoke, are being hurt by the ban.

Now, if putting neighborhood bars out of business and causing economic hardship for the people they employ is the price society has to pay so Jeanne Weigum can drink alcohol and eat deep-fried cheese curds in a healthy environment, then let’s be honest and say so. If the patrons and employees of neighborhood bars are just collateral damage necessary for the collective good, then just say so. If the new urbanists don’t like hanging around poor people, then let’s just say so.

Don’t try to pretend that smoking bans in bars and restaurants are anything other than the majority imposing its whim on the minority. Don’t try to gerrymander some statistical justification that in no way represents reality. At least be honest and admit it -- you just don’t care.