Smoking Ban Stings NJ Businesses
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - April 8, 2007 -- The statewide indoor public smoking ban enacted a year ago is hurting businesses to the point that they have to close, state business leaders say.
The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, passed last year by legislators, prohibits cigar, cigarette and pipe smoking in restaurants, bars, private office buildings and other indoor places. It was designed to protect workers from second-hand smoke.
But as the first anniversary of the legislation approaches, Deborah Dowdell, president of the New Jersey Restaurant Association said hundreds of restaurants, bars and taverns have seen sales cut in half while others will be forced to close.
Jon Perper, owner of a bowling center in Cherry Hill, says he's going to shutter his business this summer and knows of at least 10 other bowling centers that are going to do the same.
"We immediately saw a dramatic hit in the bar part of our business," Perper told The Philadelphia Inquirer for Sunday's newspapers. "This was like 'Cheers.' People would come here after work and watch the bowling."
But state legislators say the clean indoor air will save lives and that other states such as California and New York have implemented similar bans without any negative economic effects.
"There is no reason it won't work in New Jersey," said Sen. John Adler, D-Camden. "It's hard to quantify lives saved and illnesses avoided."
The law exempted casinos. But the Atlantic City Council later moved to restrict smoking in the city's gaming centers. By April 15, the city's 11 casinos must comply with a new law that would make 75 percent of the gambling floors smoke-free.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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