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Study: Stubbing out Smoking Does Not Stub Out Jobs

May 21, 2009

Madison, WI – Gov. Doyle has signed Wisconsin's anti-smoking measure, which will ban smoking in most workplaces across the state in July 2010. However, a big concern is the economic impact the law might have on bars and restaurants, and critics have outlined how such a ban would lead to job losses. These fears could be eased by a new study to be published in a public health journal this week.

The study's lead author, Liz Klein, is a professor of health at Ohio State University. Because smoking-ban laws have been passed in several states, counties and towns over the past few years, it's possible to crunch the numbers and see how the hospitality industry has fared, she says.

"The take-home message from this is that we didn't find any significant effect on employment in bars and restaurants."

In some states, the hospitality industry has claimed smoking bans have hurt bottom lines. This study did not look at the profit-loss sheets for bars and restaurants. However, Klein says, because reporting for those sheets differs so widely, comparing them would not be valid research. She claims staffing levels are an accurate indicator because jobs are added and cut quickly in the industry, based on the economic situation.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that exposure to second-hand smoke increases nonsmokers' risks of developing lung cancer and heart disease. Klein says the research on the health benefits of making workplaces smoke-free is solid, and she hopes her study can help hospitality industry owners who want to protect worker health, but are concerned about the bottom line.

"Enacting these comprehensive clean-indoor-air policies provides the greatest public health benefit and didn't produce any significant economic effects."

The research will be published in the June issue of "Prevention Science."

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI