According to the almost unanimous verdict of those working within the New York bar and restaurant industry, business has plummeted by as much as 50 percent in the wake of the city and state smoking bans — and the drop has sparked employee layoffs and has many establishments on the brink of closing their doors.
Owners acknowledged that their business was already suffering a downturn in the wake of 9/11 and from the stalled economy. But many believe the smoking ban has dealt a further devastating blow to the city’s $10.2 billion restaurant and bar industry.
However, the New York Times reported on July 26 that the New York City Health Department report showed that bars and restaurants in the city, where smoking has been banned since April 1, actually hired 9,700 workers between March 11 and June 11, even more than they had the previous year.
“There’s no evidence of a negative impact, and if there were a negative impact, we would have seen it,” said the city health commissioner, Thomas R. Frieden. “A lot of the rhetoric in the industry is off the wall.”
The hospitality industry, however, insists that its finances took a hit from the smoking ban.
Health department statistics show 10,000 New Yorkers die of tobacco-related causes each year, 1,000 of them because of exposure to secondhand smoke.