Smoking Ban

Business First – June 25, 2004

Columbus residents say they won’t flee to the suburbs to find restaurants that will accommodate their taste for cigarettes if the city adopts a smoking ban.

That’s the determination of a new survey completed for SmokeFree Columbus, in which 45 percent of 301 people polled said they would be less likely to dine in a neighboring community after a ban was imposed. Forty-seven percent of those asked the same question replied that a ban wouldn’t factor into their dining decisions.

As Columbus City Council continues to be lobbied by groups on both sides of the no-smoking debate, the survey results likely are a blow to the Coalition for Customer Choice, a group of hospitality industry executives who argue a smoking ban in public places would lead to lost business sales, especially in bars.

Saperstein Associates Inc. of Columbus, a public opinion research firm, conducted the survey June 16 to June 18, interviewing registered voters in the city.

The data back up SmokeFree Columbus’ contention that taverns, restaurants and other businesses won’t face an exodus of customers if a public smoking ban is approved this month by City Council.

Since late last year, SmokeFree Columbus has been pushing for a ban in an attempt to protect workers and customers of businesses from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Another key result from the survey is that 70 percent of those questioned felt that even though smoking is legal, non-smokers have the right to breathe clean air in indoor public places.

And 73 percent said the rights of customers and employees to breathe clean air inside restaurants and bars are more important than the rights of smokers to light up in those establishments.