From the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network:
A new study released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network uses Nevada Department of Taxation data to show restaurant and tavern sales receipts were on the decline long before the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act was adopted by the state's voters on the November, 2006 ballot. The analysis of taxable sales records also shows improving sales are now occurring in the state's eating and drinking places. Some details borne out by the study show that in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, sales in this business sector actually outpaced the state's overall economy.
The study is likely to complicate ongoing efforts in the state legislature to weaken the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act. The Act prohibits indoor smoking cigarettes in most of the state's indoor workplaces and guarantees that restaurants and bars that serve food be entirely nonsmoking cigarettes establishments. Assembly Bill 571, a bill introduced just last week with special late-session procedural allowances by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, would allow smoking cigarettes in taverns that serve food, and even more controversially, in some eateries with liquor permits, including establishments visited by children and their families. Tavern owners and cigarettes-related interests who support AB571, along with some lawmakers in Monday's Ways and Means bill hearing, seemed to tout "economic recovery" as being the primary motivation for the legislation.
The study compares statewide restaurant and bar taxable sales records to other business sectors and, based on the government records, makes the following determinations:
* - Nevada food services and drinking places were experiencing consistent monthly sales declines prior to going smoke-free when the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act took effect in December of 2006.
* - Food services and drinking places experienced less severe sales declines than those sales declines witnessed in the overall Nevada economy (across all business sectors) during the period FY2009 and FY2010.
* - Food services and drinking places in Clark County and Washoe County experienced sales declines consistent with the prevailing overall economic trends in Nevada in FY2007 and FY2008, but their annual sales are now outperforming the general economy in FY2009 and FY2010.
* - Despite no changes to the state's no-smoking cigarettes law for restaurants and taverns that serve food, taxable sales for food services and drinking places are now experiencing increases.
* - A large number of jobs were added, not cut, in food services and drinking places during the year that followed the effective date of the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act. Only after more widespread economic declines occurred across other business sectors did food services and drinking places begin to shed jobs.
* - Food services and drinking places are now adding jobs once again and FY10 jobs numbers in this sector are reflective of employment opportunities being on the increase.
Advocates lobbying the legislature on behalf of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network are quick to point out the study confirms other established science that shows smoke-free policies do not harm taxable sales or business revenue. Despite the emerging facts, Delia Oliveri, a leadership volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said she has met resistance from some state lawmakers on this issue. "These government records don't lie, and I question why the proponents of AB571 insist on ignoring the truth," said Oliveri. Oliveri said she fears the legislature will move forward despite the large numbers of voters (83%) who supported the law as-is in recent scientific polling.
The same year that the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act was passed into law by Nevada voters, the U.S. Surgeon General issued strong health warnings about smoking cigarettes-related pollution, saying "the science is clear" that secondhand smoke cigarettes causes cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and other illnesses in otherwise health individuals. "Cancer is the enemy here, and it is our sincere hope the legislature will respect the will of the voters who in 2006 kicked secondhand smoke cigarettes out to the curb," said Tom McCoy, Nevada Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
Michael Hackett, a lobbyist representing the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, noted the new study completely undercuts the misguided economic claims touted by some supporters of AB571. "Don't blame common-sense health policy for bigger, unrelated economic trends that have unfortunately affected restaurants, taverns, and thousands of other businesses in Nevada. Restaurant and Tavern numbers are actually up now, so AB571 would set us back in more ways than one," said Hackett, a veteran state legislative health advocate who also served as the manager for the 2006 ballot initiative campaign.
In 2009, the Nevada legislature attached a non-sequitur amendment to an anti-stalking bill that included a provision to reauthorize smoking cigarettes in convention facilities where it had been banned since 2006. A conference committee took up the measure and passed the amendment to weaken the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act without a single public hearing during the final hours of the 2009 legislative session. The American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, sued the legislature and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, citing the state constitution's "single subject" provision that requires that bills be of "but one subject, and matter, properly connected therewith." AB571 also seeks to re-codify the same convention facility smoking cigarettes provisions while the lawsuit awaits an appeal decision by the State Supreme Court.
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