Hotel Online Special Report
Smoke-Free Bars Still Successful; 
Sales Tax Data Shows Encouraging Trend
Compliance Checks Indicate Strong Support
ENCINO, Calif - June 25, 1998--California Board of Equalization sales tax data released June 24 for 1,161 of California's smallest bars show a 1.06 percent sales increase (comparing January 1998 to January 1997) and the American Lung Association continues to point to the success of smoke-free bars in California, despite attempts by the tobacco industry to derail the employee health law.

"The numbers are encouraging and we will have an even clearer picture this September when the Board of Equalization releases the first quarter data on all bars," said Chair of the Board Michael Gardner, of the American Lung Association of California. "Contrary to the National Smokers' Alliance campaign, a tobacco industry front group, American Lung Association surveys have found that the smoke-free bar law is supported and compliance is widespread. The overwhelming success of smoke-free bars will certainly help to defeat Senate Bills 1513 and 539, both of which attack the law and will be heard in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee on Monday, June 29."

Opponents of the smoke-free workplace law claim that it will make bars lose business, but sales tax facts suggest the opposite.  Similar arguments were made prior to the smoke-free bar component of the law. Comparing the first six months of California restaurant revenues in 1994 to the first six months of 1995, after restaurants went smoke-free, sales increased by 3.3 percent.

Compliance with the smoke-free bars law produced these American Lung Association survey results: In Sacramento, approximately 70 percent of the 60 local bars surveyed, including many sports bars, indicated that implementation of the smoke-free bar law is going smoothly with no problems.  In addition, 100 percent of 35 downtown bars in San Diego were in compliance, according to a report released by the San Diego office around the time of the Super Bowl, plus another 87 percent in the City of Coronado (in San Diego County).

In addition, a February 10 American Lung Association report, of 42 bars in three San Mateo County cities, 86 percent were in compliance.  The Contra Costa/Solano's BREATH Project Survey show 94 percent compliance among bars and restaurants in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf tourist area and 100 percent compliance among the 11 bars and restaurants visited at Jack London Square, an Oakland tourist area.

In light of the fact that 82 percent of California adults do not smoke, on January 1, 1998, California made national history when bars, taverns and gaming clubs became smoke-free workplaces.  There are an additional 800,000 employees protected by this component of the law. As with any new law, there is always a natural transition period.

"The tobacco industry would have the public believe that a ventilation standard is possible for safe exposure to carcinogenic secondhand smoke," said Gardner.  "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and tobacco companies cannot be entrusted to write California's health laws."  Secondhand smoke is classified as a Group A Carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The American Lung Association has been fighting lung disease for more than 90 years.  With generous support of the public and the help of volunteers, we have seen many advances against lung disease. However, the work is not finished.  As we look forward to our second century, we will continue to strive to make breathing easier for everyone.  Along with our medical section, the California Thoracic Society, we provide programs of education, community service, advocacy and research.  The American Lung Association's activities are supported by donations to Christmas Seals and other voluntary contributions because, When You Can't Breathe, Nothing Else Matters. You can contact the American Lung Association by calling (800)LUNG-USA, which will automatically connect you to your nearest lung association office.

Andrew Weisser, 818/757-1440
   or your local American Lung Association
   at 1-(800)LUNG-USA

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