NY Bars, Restaurants Tally Cost of Ban

A study released by the New York Nightlife Association and the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association says that jobs, wages, and production have been lost as a result of New York’s statewide ban on smoking in public places, the Associated Press reported June 8.

Since the ban went into effect in July 2003, 2,000 jobs in the restaurant and bar industry have been lost, as well as $28.5 million in lost wages and $37 million in lost gross state product, the groups contend. In addition, the report says 650 jobs were eliminated in affiliated businesses, in addition to $56 million in lost wages and production.

According to Brian O’Connor, the study’s author, the report was based on projections from data provided by the state Labor Department. Actual employment data for 2004 is not yet available.

Although the Labor Department data indicates a decline in bar and tavern jobs from 2002 to 2003, the numbers also show a decline in those jobs in the two years prior to the ban taking effect.

The two groups are urging the state legislature to pass new exemptions to the ban. A bill currently under consideration would exempt bars, bowling alleys, and billiard parlors that have an approved air-filtration system.