Smoking bans snuff out bar jobs

Do smoking bans hurt businesses? A new article by Michael R. Pakko, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, says yes.

I don’t pay much attention to arguments about the economic effects of smoking bans — it’s a question of free association, not business profits. This is a good review though, and worth keeping in mind when ban proponents implausibly argue that bans will bring out in droves the people who currently stay home because of their aversion to smoke.

Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    OK, so the first sentence I read was “the results are far from conclusive…” Hardly a ringing endorsement of the viewpoint.

    Anyway, I’m not sure I can buy the argument. I don’t personally know any smokers who would stay home from the bars when they only have to go outside for a smoke. The whole idea seems fishy to me.

  2. Jacob Grier says:

    Probably not stay home, but perhaps drink less. It could be the difference between having one last drink with a cigarette versus settling up with the bartender and smoking on the walk home. For places without patios, time spent outside is time without a drink and without the friends one is drinking with.

    You’re also making the common mistake of assuming all smokers are cigarette smokers. For cigar smokers it’s not nearly so easy as just stepping outside. For us it would absolutely be the choice to not go out at all, especially in the winter.

    But in any case, that’s exactly the reason I don’t pay much attention to the issue. Hypothetically increased bar tabs is a lousy (but often invoked) reason to pass a smoking ban, and lower bar tabs is the least important reason to support people’s right to work and light up wherever they freely choose to do so.

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