Smoking Ban Puts Damper on PA Taverns

A recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette highlights the burden the statewide smoking ban has on Pennsylvania bars and taverns.

According to the Pennsylvania Tavern Association, there were over 16,000 taverns in the state six years ago, with that number standing currently at 12,500, due in large part to the smoking ban. In accordance with the Clean Indoor Air Act, an establishment can only be exempt from the ban if it’s total food sales make up less than 20% of its profit. The only other viable alternative is for the business owners to wall off the restaurant from the bar, a job often costing over $100k. Disastrous economic effects have been seen before in states with similar laws, as we highlighted in a our policy points on smoking bans:

  • Four years after a smoking ban was implemented in California, 59.3% of establishments reported a decline in sales averaging over 26%. Nearly 30% of these businesses reported laying off workers or cutting back on hours.
  • In New York, the smoking ban costs businesses over $37 million a year, often making these establishments no longer profitable.

Not only are the ill-effects of a government mandated smoking ban well documented in these cases, but evidence illustrating the health effects of second-hand smoke is cloudy as well. In 2007, The New England Journal of Medicine estimated an individual would need to spend 4,000 hours in a smoke filled room to inhale the amount of smoke in one cigarette. Given the devastating effect bans have had business in addition to conflicting science the health risks, it seems The Clear Indoor Air Act is going up in smoke…