Thursday, May 21, 2009

Smoking Bans Don't Lose Jobs for Bar Employees

A new study suggests that comprehensive clean indoor air policies do not lead to a reduction in hospitality jobs, and that exempting bars from community smoking bans makes no economic difference in terms of preserving bar employment.

The research, published in the June issue of the journal Prevention Science, this is the first analysis to compare the economic effects of different levels of clean indoor air policies in multiple cities. The study, led by Elizabeth Klein, assistant professor of health behavior and health promotion at Ohio State University, examined employment trends over three years in eight Minnesota cities with different types of clean indoor air policies and two cities with no laws restricting smoking.

1 Comment:

  1. Michael J. McFadden said...
    Your article "Smoking Bans Don't Lose Jobs for Bar Employees" is wildly inaccurate.

    The study authors had two sets of NAICS data: Data for bars, AND data for full-service-restaurants. They deliberately chose NOT to publish any analysis on what happened to bar employment.

    Some might conclude that they simply withheld such results because it would have damaged the political cause the researchers and ClearWay Minnesota, intended to support. There’s an obvious motivation to have performed a separate analysis since the results, if they went the "right" way, would have made the study’s conclusion FAR more powerful! Just picture the headlines: "New Study Shows Even BARS Gain Business After Smoking Bans!"

    When I asked the study’s lead author about this I was simply told that the analysis of both together was "the most appropriate" approach. I then noted that I found this puzzling unless the researchers were fairly new to the field since historically it’s always been thought that bars suffer disproportionately. I asked, “Are you saying such a separation and its value to your study did not occur to you and your colleagues and that none of you or your peer-reviewers / journal editors thought to take a look at that data?"

    Her response, instead of offering a reasonable explanation, was this:

    "You may want to familiarize yourself with some of the scientific literature on economic effects on the hospitality industry."

    She then attached an old study blaming any contrary research results on tobacco industry funding and corruption.

    This is not what I would call a professional response to a reasonable question. Picture if I did a study on the economic meltdown, examining data for its effects on Blacks and Whites. I know Blacks have a better reason for concern and have also been most featured in the media as suffering, but despite having both sets of data I simply decide it is "most appropriate" to combine Blacks and Whites and present a report concluding that there’s no harm from the meltdown. I do this despite knowing that, since Whites outnumber Blacks 10-1, any Black suffering will of course be covered up.

    I then go to the media, arguing there's no need for government change by saying, "We certainly did not detect anything close to the dramatic claims that opponents make based on the concerns that they have for Blacks." (Actual news quote from the lead researcher with the word Blacks substituted for Bars.) The headlines then read: “New Research: Economic Meltdown Does Not Hurt Blacks, Whites."

    When asked why I didn’t examine Black suffering separately I simply reply that I felt combining the data was “more appropriate” while telling my questioner to study economics and handing him a rather questionable racial pamphlet.

    My opinion about researchers who would do such a thing may seem harsh, but I fail to see much room between the choices of incompetent or unethical. The fact that my emails did not elicit a response of "Gee, we ARE new to the field and just didn't think of separating bars." would seem to strongly imply the latter.

    The fact that the study cited only two pieces of contrary research, with one being an old radio broadcast and the other one being cited improperly (the only improper citing among all 36), lends support to that view.

    The fact that the research compared the 3 main variables in an very odd way that lumped two of them together gives more support to that view.

    The fact that this study ignored an earlier study by the same funders that showed drastic customer reductions in 7 of 10 bars in publicly shared data, refused to release the rest of their data, and seems to have even removed the shared data from regular Internet channels adds further support.

    And the final fact, the fact that reasonable questions were met with noncommunicative responses, seems to complete the perception of ethical questionability in the case of this study.

    Michael J. McFadden,
    Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

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