Study that says bars not affected by smoking law is hogwash

I hate to write about my other business in The Clare County REVIEW, but when this press release came across my computer a few days ago, I went ballistic.

The headline read, “Study finds no overall negative impact on bars and restaurants from Michigan’s smoke free air law.”

Apparently the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) commissioned the University of Michigan- Institute for Social Research and Professor Helen Levy to conduct the study using mostly data from the Michigan Department of Treasury.

I don’t know where MDCH came up with the money to pay for the study. Heck most of us bar owners have to make our own “No Smoking” signs to post, because, supposedly MDCH has no money to print them. I will tell you, unequivocally they certainly didn’t get their monies worth from Ms. Levy and her institute.

Why? Because most bars- AND I MEAN MOST, if not all, in Northern and Central Michigan are adversely affected by the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke-Free Air Law that was passed by our State Legislature in 2009, without being put to the vote of the people. And let’s not talk single digit percentage points in loss of business. The bar and restaurant owners I know have all lost to the tune of 20-50% of their business due to the no-smoking law.

You cannot find a bar in this area that hasn’t either gone out of business or is for sale, because of declining business due to the no-smoking law. This is not an exaggeration- it is fact. If you would like to buy a bar- and I strongly would steer you in the other direction- you have your pick of most any bar in the area.

My bar/restaurant is no exception. I get complaints daily from customers who can’t smoke inside. Others, who were regulars before the ban, simply don’t show up anymore. If they can’t have a cigarette with their beer, they will stay at home, where as of yet, smoking is still legal. Oh but give it some time, I suspect our friendly lawmakers will soon ban smoking there as well.

And every bar/restaurant owner I’ve talked to agrees. Whether it be Jack Gross at Gateway Lanes in Clare, or Roger Lower at Loomis Lounge in Loomis or Jerry Rogowski at Big Al’s in Lake, or others, we as purveyors of food and liquor, are hurting because our customers cannot smoke in our establishments.

Maybe it’s different downstate. Downstaters, for the most part, have gotten along without smoking for many years. But up here, smoking is still a big deal. And in the bars, up here, it was a several century tradition to have a smoke with your pint of beer.

“It is important to note after the passage of the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke-Free Air Law, bars and restaurants as a whole were not adversely affected,” said James Haveman, Director of the MDCH. I guess he’s talking about bars in the Detroit area. He’s inhaled too much second-hand smoke if he’s talking about bars around here.

Obviously the study was commissioned to justify the legislature’s heinous actions. They had no business passing the no-smoking ban the way they did- back room negotiations that were completed at the 11th hour and included a bunch of tradeoffs. Real lawmakers would have put it to the vote of people. If it then was voted down, people like me would have to keep our mouths’ shut.

Alas it wasn’t and I guess we will never know the “will of the people.” We do know, however, expensive studies that are commissioned to justify actions of the State, are not very believable. This one certainly is no exception.