Dertig tot 45% omzetverlies en fooien die teruglopen van $80 naar $20 dollar op een avond. Dat zijn de effecten van een horeca rookverbod dat in Pierce County, in de staat Washington, werd ingevoerd op 25 februari van dit jaar.
Bars en casino’s hebben zwaar te lijden onder het verbod en vele werknemers in de sector hebben al hun baan verloren.
“How many people have to lose their cars and their jobs and their homes before you see that trying to protect my health is endangering my livelihood?”
To see how well the smoking ban here is working out, join Tracy Willows at the end of her shift, when she is shaking her head at the 20 bucks — if she’s lucky — in her pocket and wondering if her pay will be enough to fill her gas tank, much less put food on the table or buy gym uniforms for her two kids.
“I can’t even pay my rent. My parents have been making my car payments for me, but they can’t do that anymore,” she said this week from a booth at the Grand Central Casino, where she is a waitress.
This casino has laid off 15 employees since the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health’s new smoking regulations went into effect in earnest Feb. 26. And managers say they will lay off 40 to 50 more if the business slump, which they blame on the ban, continues.
“My tips have gone down from $70 or $80 a day to less than $20,” Willows said.
Other bar and restaurant owners say they have fired employees or cut back hours because of sudden drops in revenue.
“All the things that we have said might happen are happening,” said Linda Matson, executive director of the Entertainment Industry Coalition, which sued the county health department.