PERSONAL STORIES & REPORTS

HOW SMOKING BANS HAVE AFFECTED OWNERS SUBJECTED TO BANS


 

California Smokers Use Prohibition Tactics to Get Around Ban - SAN FRANCISCO Back when liquor was outlawed during this country's Prohibition movement, Americans found clever ways to dodge police and have a drink in secrecy and safety.

Today, booze is legal but in California restaurants and bars, cigarettes aren't. Three years ago, voters passed a ban to protect employees from second-hand smoke.

But many patrons are still lighting up at bars that secretly accommodate their habit.

"I think it's fair to say a lot of the bar owners have gone out of their way to avoid the law, to circumvent the law," said Christopher Arriola, assistant district attorney of Santa Clara County. "You do see some sort of what people might call Prohibition-era tactics."



WHEN THEY TELL YOU HOW WELL THE BAN WORKS IN CALIFORNIA, REMEMBER THIS STORY

Open letter from George Kachulis, owner of Jack Feeney's Bar And Grill, Ottawa, Canada, to the morality police:

"Dear Alex. You remember me, don't you? I'm the guy in the restaurant business who voted for you (yes, I live in Kanata). I also said in my last e-mail to you that if I was still in business in six months after the smoking bylaw went into place, I would shake your hand.

"Sorry, Alex, but it now looks like it's just not going to happen. I may not make it to April when I figure my patio may save me. I have lost money since August; I was one of the few to comply, even though it was barely enforced anywhere else, and it's still not being enforced properly.

"It's not fair. I comply, yet my customers are smoking at my competitors.

Smoking ban burns business in bars - Tricia Nutter, owner of Kelly's Landing in North Weymouth, held up a newspaper ad by a Quincy bar welcoming Weymouth smokers.

 "We have lost thousands of dollars, " Nutter said. " The economic impact on small business is huge. We are also facing a loss in value of our businesses and our liquor licenses. Who would want to buy a bar in Weymouth now?"

Gotta sell more booze in order to smoke! - Griscowsky says that last May all seven Humpty's locations went non-smoking. But, like the nursery rhyme, the bylaw caused Humpty's to have a "great fall" because it had a lousy fall. By the end of summer, business at one of his two restaurants was down a whopping 38%.

"The non-smoking bylaw saw our sales volume drop at one location by as much as $32,000 a month," says Griscowsky.  "It was all our profits. Basically we went from a profitable location to one which was just breaking even."

So they built completely separate ventilated rooms to comply with the smoking rules and business picked up.  People loved it.  But not the smoke police.  They observed that booze sales didn't make up more than 50% of the lounge's business, food did.  In order to stay in operation Griscowsky would have to push lots more booze.

Now, isn't that something? In order to comply with this goofy smoking bylaw, a businessperson has to actually push the sale of alcohol - and push it hard!

California tells Delaware:  Heads Up! - Patrick White, owner of Fiddler's Green on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, said he feels sorry for Delaware bar owners for what they are about to endure.

"They're foolish people to do that," White said when told of the new law.

White owned nine bars in California until the law went into effect there. He now has four.

[MARTHA'S] VINEYARD FEUDS OVER BAR SMOKE
Boston Globe, June 3, 2002

OAK BLUFFS - Smoke-free air may be healthy, but some bar owners in this island town just couldn't stand it anymore. They wanted the smokers back.

Their lobbying paid off last week when the Board of Health voted 2-1 to repeal the town's ban on smoking in bars, a little more than a year after the same board imposed the measure. Barkeepers along Circuit Avenue said the smoking ban took money out of their cash registers and tip jars, and shoved the problem out onto the street where smokers gathered and cigarette butts accumulated.

"A number of my customers have asked me to get smoking back into the Lampost," said Peter Martell, owner of a bar and a nightclub on this town's main street. "With the ban, people don't smoke less. What they're doing is going out on the sidewalk."

Bar owners may get jail time for allowing smoking - [Waterloo, Ontario, Canada] - Health staff say the crackdown, to be considered by councillors today, addresses complaints that a few establishments are stealing business away from 99 per cent of the industry that complies with the ban.
 
 

PUB AND BAR COALITION OF ONTARIO
Official Figures from Ontario Brewers Confirm Disastrous Effects of Smoking Ban

Almost $11.5 million loss in beer sales and tips over 10 months;
Ottawa's losses more than three times the rate for rest of the province.
Total impact exceeds $25 million and rising.

OTTAWA, August 6, 2002 - The Pub and Bar Coalition of Ontario (PUBCO) today released sales figures provided by the Brewers of Ontario which irrefutably confirm the disastrous effects on Ottawa's hospitality industry of the 11 month old, 100% smoking ban.

For the first 10 months of the ban (September 1, 2001 to July 1, 2002), all licensed establishments in Ottawa recorded an average decline in beer sales of 10.5% when compared the same 10 months one year earlier, more than three times the average decline of 3.3% across 12 municipalities in southern Ontario. None of the reporting municipalities (Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, Sarnia, Kingston, Cornwall,
London, Belleville, and Niagara Falls) have a similar ban except Oakville which introduced its ban on June 1, 2002.

The 10.5% percentage difference translates to almost 160,000 less cases of beer sold in Ottawa establishments than before the ban. If Ottawa had simply been at the 3.3% provincial average decline, the loss would have
been roughly 50,000 cases. But the massive difference of 7.2% more than the provincial average decline equates to a loss in sales of 108,877 cases or 2,613,048 bottles. Selling at an average of $3.80, the loss is $9.93 million
(including almost $1.7 million of taxes). Servers - who depend on tips - lost about $1.5 million. The total impact of the ban on beer sales alone, therefore, is $11,419,020.

These losses do not include lost revenues from liquor and food sales, lost revenue to bar and restaurant suppliers, lost revenue to entertainers, lost revenue to the amusement and vending industry (video games, coin-operated pool tables etc.), lost revenue at Rideau Carleton Slots and lost revenue to non-licensed restaurants (e.g. coffee shops relying on smoking workers from office buildings)

To assess the full impact of the ban, one also has to consider the $3 million the city has spent on enforcing it (including the $1.2 million tax bail-out of charity bingos), the $4 million which those same bingos will lose from direct revenues, lost tax revenues from reduced personal income, lost provincial and federal corporate taxes and lost municipal taxes from the30 or so establishments that have been forced out of business.

Conservatively, very conservatively, the total impact is likely over $25 million.

Contrary to the unfounded claims of some councillors, the situation is worsening. Beer sales for May and June of this year show a full 14% decline over the same period one year earlier. This, despite the fact that an estimated 200 new patios have been opened this year in an attempt by bar and restaurant owners to avoid economic
ruin, and the fact that the population of Ottawa has grown over the last year. "While city council has deliberately ignored the bar owners who have been trying to tell them this for over a year, we trust they will now accept these numbers, act quickly to end this disastrous ban and replace it with the ventilation-based compromise solution which we've been calling for, and which they know the vast majority of Ottawans will support," said Jill Scott, president of PUBCO and owner of the Chateau Lafayette. "It's clear to us why they and their consultants, KPMG, have suppressed the findings in the aborted study of the pub and bar business. The figures released today are for all of the 1,200 licensees in Ottawa and, obviously, the 300 or so pubs and bars that are overwhelmingly dependent on beer sales will be much harder hit than the average restaurant, where food sales generally support the business."

"We can't think of any better, more concrete evidence that our industry is suffering than the data we're providing today. We are, however, hoping to secure the beer sales numbers for Western Quebec which, we suspect, will further prove what our members have known from the outset, that smoking bans unnecessarily hurt business.

"We also hope that today's information will be provide a powerful argument for bar owners and elected officials in other jurisdictions that are considering the Introduction of 100% bans rather than ventilation-based solutions," Jill
Scott concluded.

"The ban is the only credible factor which explains the sharp decrease in sales," said PUBCO general manager Barry McKay. "The pro-ban supporters have shamelessly used every possible excuse - September 11, a hi-tech slowdown, the supposed dishonesty of bar owners, even the ridiculous claim by city officials that the massive
losses sustained by the bingo industry are due to a "provincial trend", when the city's own figures clearly show the bingo revenues going into free fall commencing only on August 1 2001, the very date that the smoking ban was introduced.

"The facts are, that Ottawa has a relatively low unemployment rate, the highest income in the country, and skyrocketing real estate prices. This city is not the economic disaster our politicians are claiming. What's more, our largely anti-business politicians have hidden survey results, blocked access to information requests and are now refusing to disclose the numbers KPMG collected. Presumably, in this latest example of "the ends justifying the means", the results of the aborted KPMG survey would have detailed just how serious the situation is for members of our industry. In PUBCO's view, taxpayers paid for the study, so they are entitled to see and judge the results for themselves.

"We have at least a $25 million impact that appears to be worsening. Councillor Munter - at about the same time he was posing for a self-congratulatory self-promoting, tax-payer sponsored newspaper ad - described the effects of the ban and opposition to it as "a fuss". We tend to take - and we would hope voters will take - the livelihoods
of hundreds of taxpayers and scores of locally-owned businesses a little more seriously than that" stated McKay.

For further information, including the twelve page spreadsheet with month by month, city by city beer sales data from the Brewers of Ontario, contact: Barry McKay (613) 851-1800
 
 
 

The Bemidji Minnesota Pioneer
Reaction to the Beltrami County Board's proposed smoking ban
May 14, 2002

The Beltrami County Board's consideration of a smoking ban for restaurants
in the county has drawn many responses from bemidjipioneer.com users.

It's a hot-button issue that seems to be the main topic of conversation in
the county these days. Below are some of the comments sent to
bemidjipioneer.com.
----------

Reader Opinions

Name: Sandra

Date: June 24, 2002

To the restaurant and bar owners of Bemidji. You had better listen to the pro-choice people here.

My husband and I are both non-smokers. We used to own 2 restaurants and a half-share in a bar-nightclub here in Victoria B.C., Canada.

In 1999 the Capital Regional District (CRD) here enacted a 100% smoking bylaw. We did not protest, after all we were told we would not be adversely affected by the smoking bylaw. So we thought.

We never violated the bylaw. 0ur restaurant-bar and grill was already 70% non-smoking 25% smoking before the bylaw anyway. We did not believe it would matter to us. We were so wrong.

We believed that with a level playing-field as the CRD promised us, our businesses might even see higher profits.

We were fools to buy into this anti-smoking rubbish. We lost our bar-club within eight months of the bylaw's introduction.

Our partner filed for bankruptcy. Forty-two of our workers became unemployed. In the previous five years the business was generating gross sales of over $2 million per annum. Our business was down over 50% in 1999
peaking at 65% in the winter months.

We closed early most weeknights and on several occasions on weekends. It was a bitter blow to our family and all the people involved with our business. Fortunately we had other investments that did do well for us.

Our other investments: We own and operated two restaurants. One a bar and grill (200 seats) where my husband is the manager and I co-manage along with my brother and a pizzeria (delivery and take out only) in a small
strip-mall.

The bar and grill in the last two and a half years is barely turning a descent profit. We do have a fair sized patio and in the spring-summer months we have been making out all right. The winter is a different story. Business is down over 35-45%. Our staff is reduced by 12 and my husband puts in over 90+ hours per week. We normally employ 28 people before the bylaw. This used to be our full-time staffing year-round. We can no longer afford to hire the help except during the spring-summer season.

We also had to stop hiring live music. We used to have bands every night of the week. It was too costly.

We never thought the bylaw would have such a drastic impact but it has on most businesses in our industry. We were told that smokers would, in time accept the bylaw and things would actually be better for most businesses.
This has not happened in most places here. I have talked to many other business people in our industry and I know many of them personally. They have no reason to lie about this. We were sold a bill of 'bad goods.' The
almost the entire industry in Victoria is paying for it.

I know of 40+ businesses that have closed directly on account of the smoking bylaw here. There will be many more to come. Our take-out pizza parlor is thriving on the other hand. Sales have steadily increased and we
are now doing over 30% better in gross sales than we were before the smoking bylaw.

Still this is a far cry from offsetting the loss of our bar and the profits from our restaurant-bar and grill.

We are luckier than most. 0ur family has helped us financially in our times of money woes and the loss of our business (bar-club). We would sell the restaurant (bar and grill) tomorrow, but the market value has dropped so
low that we must keep working until we can at least break even on what we paid initially for the business.

No one in their right mind wants to be in the restaurant business in this city unless they are a chain-restaurant, a high class dining, take-out-delivery or donut shop. The bar/nightclub/pub business here is down at least 15%-50%, and it's not improving.

People: smokers and non-smokers are staying home or going outside the city to locales where smoking is allowed. Non-smokers are not replacing smokers in bars, clubs or restaurants. The anti-smoking operatives are lying to all of you. Do not be fooled. Bringing a smoking ban or bylaw to your community will bring nothing but hurt and economic suffering to most businesses in the hospitality field.

My husband and I have over 60 years between us in this industry. The most insulting thing I ever heard was when we attended a council meeting to voice opposition to the bylaw when we had a first-hand look at how two out
of our three businesses were suffering. When we said our bar-club was going to go under if the bylaw continued our council members commented that "Maybe we should seek another line of work, obviously we had no idea how to run a business."

My husband had to be restrained. Some idiot in a business-suit who has never to my knowledge ever patronized any of my businesses with any regularity, who has no experience running such a hospitality establishment is telling us with over 60 years experience that we have no idea how to run our places.

We had turned constant profits since becoming business owner for over the last 25 years. These people who claim secondhand smoke is a health issue are not kidding. The health of your financial well-being is in jeopardy if
smoking is banned in your city. You will lose tourist dollars and valued customers. A word of well-earned advice. People who did not patronize restaurants and bars in your community when smoking was allowed will seldom, if ever come out even if those businesses become smoke-free.

Non-smokers and the anti-smokers pushing for government imposed smoke-free drinking and dining will not even put a dent in the amount of customer base that you will lose. That's not all you will lose. Monetarily speaking, we
have lost in excess of $530,000.00 Canadian dollars from the loss of our bar/nightclub. Over $220,000.00 in revenue from our bar and grill restaurant. We have gained about $120,000.00 from our pizza parlor.

Do the math: smoking bylaw=$750,000.00-$120,000.00=-$630,000.00 and our early retirement. We are not taking into account the loss we would take if we tried to sell our bar and grill restaurant at market value.

Do not believe the 'anti-smoking snake-oil pitchman.' They are lying to you. They are playing games with your livelihood. It is too late for us here in Victoria. Hopefully you can learn from our mistake. Had we of known
of the impact a smoking ban, we would have fought. Now we must pay the price for our complacency.

The smell of fascism is much more unpleasant than the smell of any amount of secondhand smoke.

To the 'concerned' citizens who advocate a local smoking ban or bylaw: Butt out of other people's business. You are brainwashed fools. Go back to your smoke-free 'caves.'
 

Smoking ban 'disaster' for Ottawa bars - After the first anniversary of Ottawa's blanket ban on public smoking, owners of drinking establishments there say butting out in bars was an "unmitigated disaster."

Ottawa's Dave O'Connor, who successfully ran Ottawa's Beacon Hill Arms pub for nine years, said the ban forced him out of business.

"From September to February, we lost close to $80,000 in sales," said O'Connor, who now operates as a consultant in the hospitality industry. "I wasn't going to be a millionaire, but everyone enjoyed the place."
 
 

PUB AND BAR COALITION OF ONTARIO
100% Smoking Bans Continue to Wreak Financial Havoc in Ontario.
Ottawa sales continue to slump, Oakville commences slide.
http://www.pubcoalition.com/html/index.html

OTTAWA - October 31, 2002

The Pub and Bar Coalition of Canada (PUBCO) today released an analysis of official licensee beer sales figures obtained from the Brewers of Ontario. The numbers once again underline the continuing economic damage being suffered by the Ontario pub and bar industry as a direct result of 100% smoking bans.

The analysis compared licensed sales in 11 municipalities where smoking is permitted and those in Ottawa and Oakville where 100% bans are in effect.

In Ottawa, for the first full year of the ban (September 1, 2001 to August 30, 2002) beer sales for all licensed establishments (approx. 1,200) were down 9.58% when compared to the same period one year earlier. For the same time period, sales across the 11 other municipalities declined only 3.04%. The difference of 6.54% between the provincial average and that of the Ottawa bar industry over the last year equates to lost licensed sales 118,456
cases of beer. Figured at $3.85 a bottle, this totals almost $11 million in lost beer sales alone. In addition, bartenders and waiters took home roughly $1.65 million less in gratuities.

This figure does not take into account all of the other costs which must be included to calculate the total economic impact. The domino effect is dramatic, with major losses in federal, provincial and municipal taxes, massive reductions in charity bingo revenues, losses to the food sector and restaurant suppliers, reduced bookings for entertainers, massive devaluations of business values, as well as the cost of enforcement and prosecution.
PUBCO conservatively estimates total losses to the Ottawa economy alone to be double the beer sales decline - in the region of a whopping $27.3 million.

Only recently there were two more examples in Ottawa of the long term economic effects of the smoking ban - both coming more than a year after its imposition. Britton's Smoke Shop, a 37-year old a year institution in Ottawa's Glebe area, recently closed. Also shutting its doors - and cutting off contributions to 21 charities - was the Kanata Bingo, located in the ward of Councilor Alex Munter, one of the main proponents of the ban. Both establishments attributed their closure to the smoking ban, demonstrating the across the board effects of such bans
and totally undermining The Health Industry's claim that somehow everything magically will return to normal after bans are introduced.

In addition, figures for the Oakville area show that businesses in that city have experienced an 8% decrease in licensed beer sales for the 4 months since their smoking ban has been in effect (June 1 to September 30, 2002) compared to the same 4 month period one year earlier - which saw sales increase 0.6%. Using the same math as for Ottawa, licensee sales in Oakville in the first 4 months of the ban slumped by a total of 6,695 cases which translates to a hit of $618,618.00 for the hospitality sector plus around $93,000.00 in gratuities.

Even more disconcerting for Oakville owners, monthly sales for the first four months of the ban slumped by 8.57% when compared to the previous eight months when no ban was in effect. Looking at Ottawa sales, the average monthly sales for the first four months of its ban compared to the previous eight months was an almost identical 8.59%! This clearly demonstrates that Oakville bar owners are in for the same rocky ride as was experienced by their Ottawa confreres, with at least 5 bars being forced to close within 12 months. Any excuses that these are seasonal trends are totally discounted when one considers that Ottawa introduced its ban in September while Oakville's kicked in at the start of the summer - yet the % losses are almost identical.

"These numbers are indisputable and, no matter what the time of the year, their effects are brutal" said Jill Scott, President of PUBCO and owner of the Chateau Lafayette - Ottawa's oldest bar. "They are true 'apples to apples' comparisons, and remember, these figures are for all licensed establishments; the effect on bars and pubs who rely far more heavily on beer sales than do restaurants is even more devastating. Given this clear evidence, we are asking all municipalities to think carefully about the damage 100% smoking bans will inevitably cause to their small business sector."

As the only provincial organization specifically representing the interests of bar, taverns and pubs in the province, PUBCO continues in its efforts to have the Ontario government step in and put an stop to the persecution of small business owners.. PUBCO calls for the Conservative government to enact province-wide regulations based on strict ventilation standards, in much the same way as was done by the British Columbia Liberals who also forced the end to the WCB's province wide ban which cost the province's hospitality industry over $8 million during the 2 ½ months it was in effect.

"It remains unconscionable to us," said PUBCO general manager Barry McKay, "that municipal politicians continue to willfully inflict damage on their own tax paying small businesses when it all could be avoided by passing ventilation standards - as has been done in British Columbia and Nova Scotia - that eliminate any second hand smoke threat to both patrons and workers.

"Equally reprehensible is the Ontario government's refusal to involve themselves in this issue for purely political reasons. It's a controversial and sensitive issue which they've palmed off to their 447 municipalities, resulting in a patchwork of confusing by-laws and a horrendous expense of local government time and resources.

"The multi-billion dollar anti-smoking industry should be ashamed of itself for deliberately causing this hardship to small businesses in the province when they know that proper ventilation/filtration will resolve any genuine health concerns over second hand smoke. But of course this is not on keeping with their real agenda which is to eradicate smoking at any cost. They care not one fig for the economic fallout and the livelihoods of bar owners and employees that are destroyed as a result of their crusade. By their own admission they want to 'denormalize' smoking through penalizing and criminalizing 25% of the population - many of whom are our customers - and who choose to consume a legal product", McKay concluded.

For further information contact:

Barry McKay
Tel. 613 321-0604
Cell 613 851-1800
 
 

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