No Shortage of Smoking Ban Plans

More cities and states expected to snub out cigarettes in 2006

WASHINGTON -- Retailers can expect the current trend of banning cigarette smoking in restaurants and bars to continue in 2006, according to tobacco analysts. And while such bansmost recently and notably enacted in Chicagohave been shown to decrease cigarette consumption, the effect is less than first estimated.

We believe increased smoking regulations are the future, wrote Citigroup analyst Bonnie Herzog in a recent research note. As consumers adjust to the changes, we believe the [tobacco] companies will have to adjust as well.

Currently, 11 statesCalifornia, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washingtonrequire smoke-free workplaces for all workers, including restaurant and bar workers. Additional states are likely to pass similar legislation in 2006, Herzog writes.

On January 4, the Washington, D.C., council gave final approval to a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places, adding the nation's capital to a growing list of smoke-free cities and states. Yet to be signed by Mayor Anthony Williams, the ban would apply immediately to all indoor workplaces and restaurant dining rooms but would allow smoking at bars. On Jan. 2, 2007, the ban would expand to bars but would include exemptions for outdoor areas, hotel rooms, and cigar and hookah bars.

Williams, however, said he still has some concerns about the proposed ban. I support stronger health protections for workers in the district, he wrote on his website. However, as mayor I continue to voice concerns about the measure's effect on small businesses and the city's hospitality industry. These are establishments that cater to our residents and visitors, and it is my belief that a 100% smoking ban would result in economic harm for these businesses, particularly smaller neighborhood establishments.

Other cities, towns and villages across the country are considering similar bans, some as dramatic as banning all tobacco sales, as well, as is being considered in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village, Ill.