If restaurant and bar owners have until now found shelter in the argument of job losses to oppose the smoking ban, an American study is out to prove otherwise.
Conducted in Minnesota, the study has shown that exempting bars from community smoking bans does not have any effect on the preservation of bar employment.
Study leader Elizabeth Klein, assistant professor of Health Behavior and Health Promotion at Ohio State University, has found that even the most comprehensive clean indoor air policies do not lead to a reduction in hospitality jobs.
She hopes that the findings of her study will factor into future debates within municipalities and states considering the economic and health issues surrounding smoking-ban proposals.
For their research, Elizabeth and her colleagues 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.
The researchers revealed that of the policies examined by them, some were comprehensive bans prohibiting smoking in all workplaces, while others banned smoking in most public places and businesses, but exempted bars.
While previous studies have also evaluated economic effects of smoking bans in many individual communities, Elizabeth claims that her team's study is the first to compare the economic effects of different levels of clean indoor air policies in multiple cities.
"In the end we can say there isn't 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. The public health benefit clearly comes from a comprehensive policy where all employees are protected from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke," she said
"There is strong evidence that a comprehensive policy provides the greatest protection for all employees, and now it appears that bars do not need to be exempted from clean indoor air policies to protect against severe economic effects," she added.
A research article describing the study has been published in the June issue of the journal Prevention Science.