Market forces alone won't make city smoke-free
SA Express News-May 25
Opponents of a stronger smoking ordinance like to wave the Economic Impact Flag when they argue that businesses are being regulated to death and that the city's tourism industry is likely to suffer from stiffer rules against lighting up.
If opponents are going to hang their hats on potential lost revenue as the heart of this debate, it's important to see the full picture.
The dangers of tobacco addiction and second-hand smoke, as well as the cost to communities in medical care, are attention-getters. Texas currently spends almost $1.5 billion a year in Medicaid funding on direct tobacco-related health care costs.
Curious to know whether smoking was a deal-breaker for conventioneers, I called Alcoholics Anonymous' General Service Office in New York about the group's upcoming international conference here. To be held over the July 4 weekend, the gathering is expected to draw 40,000 people. Smoking isn't on the organization's radar when it decides, more than 10 years out, where to hold its conventions, said a public information staffer for the group. “Most major cities don't allow smoking in the venue (and) many of us come from cities where smoking is banned,” the staffer said. “It's a nonissue, actually.”
But it is on the radar for the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association and about two dozen other national groups that won't consider cities that aren't smoke-free as convention sites. The AHA alone draws an estimated 30,000 people to its conventions.
The San Antonio Restaurant Association opposes the local ordinance under review but supports a statewide smoking ban, reasoning that no community should have a government-imposed edge over another in keeping and attracting businesses. That “edge” didn't materialize in Houston, where the city strengthened its smoking ordinance in 2007. Despite the bar and restaurant industry's protests to the contrary, it also seems unlikely that such an advantage would materialize locally.
Working with the San Antonio Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition, the UT Health Science Center's Institute for Health Promotion Research conducted a telephone survey of area restaurants and bars that smoking patrons could, in theory, use as alternatives because they are located in communities that don't ban indoor smoking.
Smokers in Bexar County would be out of luck in most places.
Does that prove the market already is working by imposing smoking restrictions that customers support? Yes. So, too, does the statistic hailed by the restaurant association that 97 percent of eateries in town don't allow smoking indoors.
The numbers also prove that the market forces aren't strong enough to protect public health. For one, the restaurant association's numbers don't take into account local bars, their employees or their patrons. And, what of the hundreds of employees who work for the 3 percent of eateries that aren't smoke-free?
Even if employees truly were, in this economic environment, free to “vote with their feet,” why force someone to choose a paycheck over her health?
Report says smoking ordinance wouldn’t snuff out SA restaurants and bars
SAN ANTONIO — If San Antonio ends up prohibiting smoking in indoor workplaces, would restaurants and bars likely lose patrons to other establishments outside the city limits that do allow smoking? According to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio the answer is no.
The report states that of the 165 licensed-to-serve alcohol establishments in 30 incorporated towns outside San Antonio, but within Bexar County, the vast majority (117) are already smoke-free. Plus, the remaining 48 are geographically separated from each other and don’t have the capacity to sustain an influx of smoking customers if San Antonio prohibits smoking in its bars and restaurants.
“Our analysis and data show that a comprehensive smoking ordinance would not have a detrimental effect on the city of San Antonio’s bar and restaurant industry,” said lead author Courtney A. Denton, research associate with the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR), whose researchers authored the report on behalf of the San Antonio Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition. “We believe the ordinance would actually benefit the industry, help smokers kick the habit and improve air quality.”
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said he would push for a strong anti-smoking ordinance during a May 7th press conference, and polls show the move would be supported by two-thirds of registered voters.
CLICK HERE to view the UTHSC news release.
CLICK HERE to view the report.
Anti-smoking measure would not put San Antonio bars out of business, report shows
San Antonio Business Journal
If San Antonio’s City Council adopts an ordinance that prohibits smoking in indoor workplaces, the bar and restaurant industry is not likely to lose patrons to nearby businesses outside city limits that do allow smoking, according to a new report by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Earlier this month, Mayor Julian Castro announced at a news conference that he would push for a strong anti-smoking ordinance that prohibits smoking in indoor workplaces. Bars and restaurants currently can permit smoking if their establishments allow for a smoker’s section that doesn’t impact the rest of the patrons.
The institute identified and mapped the locations of the 165 licensed-to-serve alcohol establishments in 30 incorporated towns outside San Antonio but within Bexar County. The reports showed that the vast majority — or 117 of those bars — are already smoke-free. The remaining 48 businesses outside San Antonio that do allow smoking, would not have the capacity to sustain an influx of smokers if San Antonio prohibits smoking in bars and restaurants altogether.
“Our analysis and data show that a comprehensive smoking ordinance would not have a detrimental effect on the city of San Antonio’s bar and restaurant industry,” says lead author Courtney A. Denton, research associate with the Institute for Health Promotion Research, whose researchers authored the report on behalf of the San Antonio Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition. “We believe the ordinance would actually benefit the industry, help smokers kick the habit and improve air quality.”
The Institute for Health Promotion Research investigates reasons why cancer and chronic disease among Hispanics in San Antonio, South Texas and the nation. The institute was founded by the Health Science Center in 2006. The Health Science Center is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities and is the top research institution in South Texas.
The full report is available here.