Smoking Bans: "An Affront to Freedom ... An Assault on Small Business"

Friend of Unfair Park "Peterk" forwards along this item from this morning's National Review Online, which excerpts a Friday story from the Financial Times concerning the "law of unintended consequences" created by smoking bans -- like, ya know, the one the Dallas City Council passed two weeks before Christmas. Writes Matthew Engel in the FT, sure, politicians who pass anti-smoking ordinances may indeed be "well-meaning," but their care comes at a cost:

In Britain, where smoking in enclosed public places became totally illegal in 2007, beer sales are down by 10 per cent; analysts attribute half of that to the smoking law. Pubs are now closing at a record rate of 36 a week. ... In France, more than 500 of the 40,000 cafés and bars disappeared last year. Again, the ban is largely blamed. And in France, the climate is more conducive to sitting outside with a Ricard and a Gauloise.

NO's Andrew Stuttaford says it hasn't been quite that bad in New York, where the New York City Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002 went into effect in March '03. But he has a theory about that, which is: NYC's reliency thus far "probably reflect[s] the fact that many of the anti-smoking fatwas were introduced at a time of economic strength." Or, the opposite of the environment in which Dallas passed its anti-smoking law, which goes into effect April 10. --Robert Wilonsky

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