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Other Midwest states say smoking bans don't hurt business

Lost jobs in Wisconsin was an argument used against a statewide smoking ban that will go into effect next year. But two other Midwestern states that have smoking bans say they has not significantly affected employment in restaurants and bars.

Before Minnesota and Ohio approved their bans, restaurant and bar owners said they'd lose business if customers weren't allowed to smoke. But researchers from those states who tracked employment data over three years found job loss was very minimal, not even statistically relevant.

In Wisconsin, opposition to the smoking ban extended beyond restaurants and bars. When Wisconsin lawmakers passed a smoking ban earlier this month, Senator Bob Jauch argued unsuccessfully to allow motels to have smoking rooms. The Democrat represents northern Wisconsin.

"Those along the border will be economically hit and hurt because someone will go to Minnesota," he said.

Although there are only predictions of what economic impact a statewide smoking ban will have, there are community examples. In Madison, public health officials noted that there was more liquor licenses sold after the city's ban was enacted in 2005.

Maureen Busalacchi from Smoke Free Wisconsin says clean air laws can actually improve business.

"The population continues to grow of nonsmokers. And these are the environments that most people like. And our surveys show even a majority of smokers support smoke free air laws."

When Wisconsin's smoking ban takes effect in 2010 it will apply to all businesses; except for existing tobacco stores and cigar bars.