Smoke-free law is helping business
LOS ANGELES -- The number of bars complying with California's smoke-free workplace law has risen dramatically and, rather than losing business as some feared, revenue has increased since the 1998 cigarette ban.
"I think we've seen a cultural change," Jonathan E. Fielding, county director of public health, said Thursday in announcing results of a survey showing a 46 percent rise in bars complying with the smoke-free law.
"People now expect a smoke-free environment. While the level of support continues to increase, the bottom line is the bottom line -- and that is that business has increased," Fielding said.
Most important, Fielding said, is that there are more bar employees who are protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
"We are making great progress in educating the public, including smokers, about the dangers of secondhand smoke. More and more smokers are choosing to step outside instead of risking the health of those around them," Fielding said.
The county survey of 600 to 700 establishments with liquor licenses, picked at random, found a 46 percent increase in compliance by stand-alone bars. Overall, including restaurants with bars, compliance was up 15 percent.
Strong public support and stepped-up law enforcement has also helped with the compliance effort.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky joined in the compliance announcement.
"Despite the tobacco industry's false predictions of doom and gloom when the smoke-free bar law was enacted in January 1998, support for the law continues to increase and business among California restaurants and bars continues to grow," Yaroslavsky said.
Mark Lifland, owner of the Philly West bar in West Los Angeles, said he's benefited from the smoke-free workplace law.
"Our employees and customers appreciate a smoke-free environment," Lifland said. "We've saved money in routine maintenance and cleaning costs associated with smoking. The bar smells clean. And, most importantly, we're protecting our employees and our business has increased."
Fielding added: "People want it smoke-free. No worker should have to choose between their livelihood and their health."