Smoking bans: Not responsible for everything

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Bar owners blame the smoking bans enacted in Kansas City, Missouri, and its suburbs for ruining their business and for starting World War I. (Gavrilo Princip saw a future where Serbian-Americans couldn't light up in midtown bars, so he shot the archduke of Austria.) But a study of communities in Minnesota finds that removing the ashtrays has a negligible effect on employment.

Researchers at Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota used state job data to track bar and restaurant workers over a 45-month period. Cities with comprehensive smoking bans saw a decrease of 9 workers per 10,000 residents when compared to cities with partial bans. But communities with any prohibition in place (full or partial) gained 3 workers per 10,000 residents compared to places with no bans.

Emily Klein, one of the authors, says the lack of a significant economic effect "should give us more support for maintaining the most beneficial public health policies."

Important caveat: A nonprofit group dedicated to "reducing tobacco's harm" funded the study.

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