Anti-Smoking Group Study Extols Tobacco Ban
Albany - Anti-smoking groups said yesterday they have evidence that the state's ban on smoking in the workplace is being accepted by a majority of New Yorkers and apparently not hurting bar and tavern business.
The groups say alcohol and beer tax collections, as reported by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, were at $15.2 million in August, compared with $14.4 million in August of last year.
Russell Sciandra, head of the Center for a Tobacco-Free New York, acknowledged that the numbers include taxes on both on-premises consumption of alcohol and retail sales for off-premises consumption but said they suggest that the contention by bar owners of a crisis in their industry is "inflated."
"It is entirely consistent with our predictions that nonsmokers will increase their patronage as they recognize that the new law has cleaned up the toxic atmosphere in bars and restaurants," Sciandra said.
Smoking-ban supporters say they expect New York State will have California's experience with its prohibition. Tavern and bar business initially fell off in California but then came back at higher than pre-ban levels.
Vincent Fyfe, president of Local 2-D of the New York City-based United Food and Commercial Workers union, said the wine and liquor salespeople he represents are reporting a falloff in business of between 20 percent and 50 percent since New York City imposed a smoking ban in city bars and taverns on March 30.
"It's a problem, it's a big problem," Fyfe said. "This isn't going to lower any health care costs. All it's going to do is put a lot of nice people out of work."
Also yesterday, a Quinnipiac University poll indicated that 59 percent of the registered New York voters surveyed supported the smoking ban, while 37 percent said they were opposed.
The telephone poll of 1,201 registered voters from Sept. 23 to Sept. 29 has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.