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Study Shows Smoke-Free Places Are Healthier, Skeptics Doubt It


Smoking in most public places in Ohio has been banned since May of 2007. That’s when a smokefree act approved by voters was put in place. Now, a new study by the Ohio Department of Health’s shows most people like the new statewide smoking ban in most public places. Seventy three percent of Ohio adults surveyed either approve or strongly approve of the new smokefree act. Only nineteen percent disapprove or strongly disapprove.

Health Director Ted Wymslow says 40 percent of smokers approve of the new law. He says emergency room visits for heart attack related symptoms have declined by 26 percent. Elizabeth Klein at Ohio State University’s college of Public Health took a look at the sales data for bars and restaurants that serve liquor. She says the smokefree law did not hurt businesses.

"There was no statistically significant change in sales that were associated with the Ohio smoke free act that was for bars and restaurants. And these findings are significant with findings that have been done in cities, counties, states and countries where there were no significant economic effects with policies that restricted smoking in these workplaces," says Klein.

But Jacob Evans, a spokesman for a group of bar and restaurant owners who have fought the smoking ban disagrees.

"You can put together a study to say pretty much anything you want it to say and frankly, that’s the way most of these health studies have been, particularly where it relates to business," says Evans.

Evans says many bar and restaurant owners who had a smoking clientele are hurting right now. And Evans notes retail sales of liquor itself have increased significantly in recent years while sales of wholesale liquor to bars and restaurants have not. He says that’s further proof that smokers who drink are drinking at home these days.