De kettingrokende Ierse minister van Milieu heeft dinsdag openlijk kritiek geuit op de plannen van de minister van Gezondheid om het roken in de horeca en het openbaar te verbieden. Martin Cullen, die twee pakjes per dag rookt, riep zijn ambtsgenoot Michael Martin op diens drastische plannen te matigen.
Nu met Irish Times analyse
Cullen sloot zich met zijn kritiek aan bij de groep parlementariërs die een totaal rookverbod overdreven vindt. Martin wil dat er vanaf 1 januari 2004 in geen enkele horecagelegenheid meer wordt gepaft. (www.zibb.nl)
Think again, Minister ; Politicians should acknowledge that a blanket smoking ban will not help business, writes Finbar Murphy
Source: Irish Times
Publication date: 2003-08-11
On this page last Monday, Medical Correspondent Dr Muiris Houston wrote that the evidence was convincing that the blanket ban on smoking due to come into force in January would have no impact on jobs in the hospitality industry. He based this on information given to him by Michel Martin, the Minister for Health and Children, and by Dr Michael Boland of the Office of Tobacco Control.
What the Minister for Health didn’t signal was that he has been subtly changing his position on the ban’s impact on employment. Two weeks ago, on an RT news programme, the Minister confidently said there would be no job losses because of the ban. A week later he shifted his position to say there will be no “major job losses”.
Both men interviewed by Dr Houston relied on US studies to try to justify their economic claims. But this research does not stand up their claims that a ban will be good for business. There are key differences, for example, between Ireland and California, where one of the studies was based. Its ban is not a blanket one; its exemptions include a high percentage of hotel bedrooms. Another is any hospitality outlet with five or fewer employees. Were this exemption applied to Ireland, it would exclude more than 7,000 outlets from the restrictions, including all rural pubs.
Another major difference between Ireland and California is that 84 per cent of its licensed bars and restaurants have outdoor patios and dining facilities that are open 12 months of the year. The smoking ban does not apply on these outdoor terraces, so the ban makes little difference to people.
Another key weakness in the argument about California, and a point that was very clear in New York on our fact-finding mission, is that the burst of new business from non-smokers promised with the ban has not happened.
Apart from the differences in culture and weather between Ireland and California, the detail of the studies cited has not stood up to scrutiny. When the Californian study was redone by Dr Michael Evans, a former professor of economics at Northwestern University, in Illinois, it was found to show that in virtually every place examined where a smoking ban was imposed, there was a significant decline in sales in bars and restaurants. The original studies had included takeaways and other distortions.
Another study that Dr Boland’s Office of Tobacco Control trots out to back up its statements about the ban being good for business did not look at bars. The study, by Cornell University in New York, looked at the impact on business only in hotels and restaurants.
Also, the Office of Tobacco Control does not clarify that the Cornell study looked at smoke-free regulations in hotels and restaurants in New York up to 2000 that either were 100 per cent smoke-free or had separate ventilation systems. Some of the restaurants had ventilation systems and so could allow smoking.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the ban had no adverse effects. It would be the same in Ireland were a range of measures, including ventilation systems, allowed as part of the Minister for Health’s proposals. But that is not going to be the case. A blanket ban is proposed here: a sharply different situation to what was measured in the Cornell study.
Inferring no negative impact for bars when the study did not cover this and comparing one situation with a different one in another country are not good bases for public servants to sell their policy proposals. It is at best disingenuous.
The Minister and his public servants should commission an economic-impact study to examine what has happened elsewhere and what could happen here if a blanket smoking ban goes ahead. The experience in New York, which is a closer example to Ireland than California, should be given serious consideration rather than Dr Boland claiming, after six months of implementation, that it is still too soon to make any judgments.
The Irish Hospitality Industry Alliance is concerned that employment in the sector, which is now one of the largest, with 215,000 people employed in 15,000 businesses, will be damaged by the smoking ban at a time when all sectors are under pressure from the global economic downturn. If, on average, only four jobs in each business in the sector are lost or not replaced, or if expansion plans are put on hold, it will not be long mounting up to a huge total.
The alliance is not in favour of smoking but against job losses. We have proposed a series of sensible and workable compromises and we have asked for dialogue.
Like Mary Harney, the Tnaiste, when she was talking about the introduction of carbon taxes, we want change introduced in a way that does not put jobs at risk. Like her, our priority is to maintain as many jobs as possible, and that is the basis on which we want the Minister for Health to re-examine his proposals.
Finbar Murphy, spokesman for the Irish Hospitality Industry Alliance, is the owner of the West Park Hotel, Cork, and Finnegan’s Bar and Restaurant, Limerick
Publication date: 2003-08-11
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