'No smoking law impact' on bar takings

A year after a ban on smoking in bars there has been no downturn in drinkers coming through the door or takings, according to an Asthma and Respiratory Foundation report released today.

The report also found that there had been an increase in non-smokers using bars and cafes.

Smokefree Coalition director Leigh Sturgiss said that it came as no surprise that the report found retail trade figures for bars and clubs remained the same overall since the introduction of the law.

"This is consistent with results from other jurisdictions that have gone smoke-free in hospitality venues, and shows that dire predictions from the hospitality industry about the financial effects of smoke-free bars were totally unfounded."

Figures from the Household Labour Force Survey show increased employment in pubs, bars and taverns in each of the March, June and September quarters of 2005, compared to the same periods in 2004.

However, Hospitality Association of New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robinson said the report's figures were "superficial" because they did not represent the true affects of the legislation on pubs around the country.

"The realities in the last 12 months is we've probably had 20 per cent of hospitality businesses change hands," he told National Radio.

"Now a reasonable number of those have changed hands because they were not doing well and the smoking ban will be a factor in that."

He said while the industry opposed the smokefree law, they had worked hard to try to make it work, because it was in their best interest to do so.

Mike Brown, who co-owns Jet Bar, GoGo and Mini Bar in Wellington, said in terms of customer numbers and takings, there had been almost no change.

He said: "The best thing is the benefit for staff who no longer have to work in an unhealthy environment. It also means we can invest more in the interior of our bars, without worrying about things like drapes and furniture getting dirty."

The Smokefree Environments Amendment Act came into force on December 10 last year. It prohibits anyone smoking inside workplaces including bars, restaurants, clubs and casinos.

- NZPA

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