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Mary Muhlbradt letter: Anti-smoking critic didn't have it right

I read with amusement Larry Morser's letter warning Fargoans about the dire economic consequences of a smoke-free restaurant ordinance. Two restaurants had closed in Minot, N.D., after its ordinance went into effect, he asserted, offering no evid...

I read with amusement Larry Morser's letter warning Fargoans about the dire economic consequences of a smoke-free restaurant ordinance. Two restaurants had closed in Minot, N.D., after its ordinance went into effect, he asserted, offering no evidence to back up his claim.

I'm aware of a supper club that closed, but that restaurant was located outside Minot and not subject to the ordinance. A truck stop that closed was directly across the thoroughfare from a similar truck stop owned by the same family, leading many to speculate that the restaurant was set too close anyway since it doesn't make much sense to compete with oneself.

Speculation aside, scientific studies of smoking bans that have been conducted for years around the country have yet to turn up any negative economic impacts from smoke-free ordinances.

But don't take my word for it. A survey conducted by "Restaurant Business" magazine in February showed that 56 percent of canvassed restaurateurs said they believe a smoking ban would not hurt business. One restaurant owner who went smoke-free offered a simple explanation: smokers hurt profits because they eat less and stay longer. This owner said that after a smoking ban went into effect at his establishment, business actually increased by 5 percent because tables turned over more quickly, boosting overall sales.

Many Minoters would agree that if Fargo approves a smoke-free restaurant ordinance as Minot did in 2001, citizens and visitors to the city are in for a real treat. No more smelly clothes, no more noxious air, no more waiting in line for a no-smoking table to open up, and -- more importantly -- no more negative long-term health effects for wait staff.

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Mary Muhlbradt

Minot, N.D.

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