We all know the drill. When a smoking ban is proposed anti-tobacco releases a survey that shows a high percentage, generally 75 to 80%, of the affected population supports banning smoking in all restaurants and bars. Anti-tobacco prophesizes that patronage for restaurants and bars that are no longer allowed to permit smoking will increase as non-smokers flock to venues they formerly avoided. Bar and restaurant owners, as opposed to the hospitality industry groups, always strongly oppose government intervention into their smoking policies.
After the ban is passed and enacted, over the protests of individual owners but often with the support of the hospitality industry groups, anti-tobacco releases new surveys that claim business is booming because smoking is forbidden. Bar and restaurant owners inevitably cite lower patronage rates and plunging revenues. Their reports are quite reliable since many establishments risk fines by continuing to allow smoking so that their entire customer base doesn’t disappear. The hordes of nonsmokers never seem to materialize.
David W. Kuneman years ago was struck by the disconnect between anti-tobacco propagandists and the businesses that bitterly opposed smoking bans. Determined to find out the truth he sifted through the the data provided by the United States Department of Commerce. The data, he found, backs up the business owners and discredits the sunny prognostications of smoking ban crowd.