The toughest smoking ban in the state starts here tomorrow, and the only question remaining is whether it will hurt the businesses of bars and restaurants. I wonder if we have enough information to predict that. Some say "studies have shown" that there is no negative impact from bans elsewhere. Others contend that, while the number of customers might increase (there being more non-smokers than smokers), those customers will spend less, because they won't linger as long.
But doesn't most of the economic data, such as it is, come from places that went from unrestricted smoking to a ban? We're going from a ban to a stronger ban. Smokers have been segregated for years now, and those who want to dine out without smoke have been able to do so. Are there many more to bring into restaurants to replace the smokers who decide to stay home? The biggest test will probably be in bars. I guess we'll see how many people there are in town who have always wanted to hang out in bars but haven't because of the smoke.