INDEPENDENT NEWS

Party survey reveals true effect of smoking ban

Published: Tue 23 Aug 2005 02:44 PM
WIN Party Media Release
23.08.2005
For immediate release
WIN Party survey reveals true effect of the smoking ban
If one accepts the latest Smokefree Coalition figures indicating trade in bars has picked up in the June quarter, compared to the same period last year, then one would accept also that Elvis is still in the house and the Easter Bunny is for real.
In an August 17 media release, Smokefree Coalition Director Leigh Sturgiss says that monthly sales for bars and clubs increased 2.2 percent for April, stayed the same for May and increased 7.5 percent for June, compared with the same months in 2004.
Sturgiss says that the latest figures indicate that fears about loss of profits following the smoking ban appear to be unfounded and that the latest figures show sales have rebounded, following an initial downturn.
The same release quotes ASH Director Becky Freeman as saying the latest figures are a sign that New Zealand is seeing similar results to other countries and jurisdictions that have introduced smokefree bars.
The release also quotes Freeman as saying sales tend to dip initially, but quickly recover, and that is what seems to be happening in New Zealand.
Freeman goes on to say while a few smokers may initially stay away from bars, they soon start coming back, and that bars have attracted new patrons from the 75 percent of New Zealanders who don’t smoke and who used to stay away from smoky pubs.
“If the 75% of New Zealanders who don’t smoke, and who stayed away from smoky pubs were now taking advantage of the smokefree bars, the majority of licensees would be laughing all the way to the bank”, says WIN Party spokesperson Dave Clarke.
“Unfortunately, in the real world, where Sturgiss and Freeman obviously do not reside, licensees heading to the bank are not laughing. They go to the bank with not even a smile, looking for overdrafts to keep their ailing businesses afloat”.
“We have not witnessed the increased patronage as promised by Sturgiss, Freeman and other anti-smoking lobbyists when bars became smokefree on 10 December 2004”.
“What we have seen is an industry fall into decline, with job losses, cutbacks in working hours, hotel closures, businesses up for sale and varying profit losses”.
Results from 687 bars responding to a nationwide WIN Party survey revealed that for the six-month period following the bans introduction, as compared to the same period the year before, two hundred and twenty-one bars (32%) have not been adversely affected, with some recording profit increases.
One hundred and eighty-three bars (27%) indicated a less than 5% drop-off in profitability, one hundred and eleven bars (16%) recorded losses between 5% and 9%, and seventy-three bars (11%) recorded decreased profits between 10% and 19%.
Forty-seven bars recorded losses between 20% and 29%, twenty-six bars have suffered losses between 30% and 39%, eighteen bars had losses of between 40% and 49% and eight bars recorded profit losses of 50% or greater.
“Our survey result reveals the true effect the smoking ban has had upon the hotel, tavern and bar industry nationwide”, says Clarke, “and it’s a result not distorted by ‘seasonally adjusted figures’ or the aberration of the Lions Tour”.
“While the licensed bar industry struggles to survive in rural areas, the illegal bar trade is booming, as opportunists cash in on the smoking ban that’s driven many smokers to find alternative social venues”.
“At one unlicensed bar in the Wairarapa, in operation prior to the bans introduction, trade has doubled, and while police are aware of its existence, they have not shut it down”.
“If the indicators of a ‘successful’ smoking ban are job losses, bar closures and proliferation of unlicensed bars, then yes, New Zealand’s smoking ban is a monumental success”.
ENDS

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