The study examined employment trends over three years in eight Minnesota cities with different types of clean indoor air policies and two cities with no laws restricting smoking. Of the policies examined, some were comprehensive bans prohibiting smoking in all workplaces, while others banned smoking in most public places and businesses, but exempted bars.
"In the end we can say there is not a significant economic effect by type of clean indoor air policy, which should give us more support for maintaining the most beneficial public health policies," said Elizabeth Klein, lead author of the study. Klein and colleagues used state-mandated reporting data to track monthly employment in full-service restaurants and bars between January 2003 and September 2006 in ten communities.
The researchers used job data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Using industry codes, the researchers selected jobs coded for full-service restaurants and free-standing bars to include in the study.
"We wanted to look at businesses most likely to be affected by this type of policy based on the smoking and drinking correlation that has been established in previous studies," Klein said. "Opponents to clean indoor air policies tend to say that having a partial policy, with bars exempted, will be less painful economically for the community. They say people who work in these businesses that are dependent on alcohol sales would experience a catastrophic effect."
In the study, the researchers calculated the bar and restaurant employment on a per capita basis to allow for the different sizes of the communities examined and the varying number of relevant businesses in each community. Over the 45-month period studied, there was relatively little change in employment levels in bars and restaurants among the communities examined.
None of the changes met statistical standards required to determine that the differences - increases or decreases - were significant. "We certainly did not detect anything close to the dramatic claims that opponents make based on the concerns that they have for bars," Klein said.
MEDICA.de; Source: Ohio State University