The smoking ban takes effect in Louisville this coming week. Whether it is a good or bad idea, only time will tell. It will be hard to measure economic impact for businesses, because so many factors account for upturns or downturns in restaurant sales. So lets take a look at some brewpubs that have already banned smoking.
Cumberland Brews here in Louisville, banned smoking in their restaurant in January. It was the result of the employees voting for it. I talked to Matt Gould, the brewer at Cumberland. He said that there hasn't been any drop in business, and that there have been people who have came into Cumberland specifically because of the smoke-free policy. Matt did add that sometimes there are more people outside on the sidewalk, where patrons can smoke, than there are inside, which can be a little difficult to deal with. But overall it has been good for them.
Peter Egelston, president of Smuttynose Brewing Co. and Portsmouth Brewing in Portsmouth, NH, who voluntarily made his brewpubs smoke-free over four years ago, spoke out on smoking bans in The New Brewer. Egelston said, "People assume that because I made the brewpub smoke-free, that I support smoking bans. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am adamantly opposed to any form of legislated smoking ban in bars and restaurants. I don't see why the government should act as nanny in this regard any more than it should force us to eat our peas and carrots at dinnertime. The very people who promote legislated solutions to the problem of secondhand smoke will soon be turning their guns on those of us who make our living in the beverage alcohol business. Mark my words." Don Younger, owner of the Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Ore. said, "If a smoking ban is such a good idea, why do they have to pass a law? If it's so great for my business, why am I already not doing it? They're telling me I am stupid, and I don't know how to run my own pub." I would add here, that the exemption of Churchill Downs exposes our city leader's inconsistency. If there is no negative economic impact, then what's the purpose of the exemption?
Tyler Brady, manager at Bluegrass Brewing Co. used to work at a 4th Street Live restaurant that voluntarily went smoke free. He said they lost a significant amount of business following the decision. Tyler added that he thinks a ban is too restrictive and would rather let businesses decide for themselves. If Government wanted to push businesses in a smoke-free direction, he would rather they use incentives such as tax breaks or lower insurance premiums.
My opinion is that if smoking is so bad and causes so much disease and death, then ban smoking altogether. I can't understand the inconsistency of a government that with one hand takes the cigarette out of your mouth and with the other hand collects the taxes from their sale. Tax revenue is the only reason I can think of why they won't ban cigarettes. Hell, it should be our patriotic duty to buy cigarettes in order to properly fund our government's important projects *cough* paint the bridge*cough*. Scott Lilly, assistant Jefferson County attorney was quoted yesterday in the Courier-Journal, "economic loss doesn't trump a law intended to protect public health." He was talking about business's economic loss, perhaps we should apply this to our elected leaders. Tax revenue shouldn't trump public health. Ban cigarettes completely or leave people alone, it's this convoluted middle ground that upsets everyone.
never trust The Sober Brewer