Smoking Ban Opponents Using Non-Relevant Study

14 05 2008

I just recieved an e-mail on behalf of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association claiming to be “the other side of the story.”  In the e-mail, they link to a study done by Michael Pakko who is a research officer with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  The study, which was conducted in Columbia, MO, reached the conclusion that the ban hurts businesses.

Here’s the problem with the study.  Missouri doesn’t have a statewide smoking ban.  Columbia banned smoking on their own so you can literally drive a mile and be outside of city limits and be able to smoke.   I have no doubt that a smoking ban in one community hurts business, but you can’t compare that situation to banning smoking in an entire state.

I have sent an e-mail to Mr. Pakko asking if he’s done research on how statewide bans effect business…St. Louis is right on the Illinois border (which has a smoking ban).  Research like that would have more effect on Michigan than one done in a a single community.

Here’s a link to Mr. Pakko’s research.  This is a sad attempt at throwing sh*t against the wall to see if it sticks.

UPDATE 5:48 PM – I recieved an e-mail response from Mr. Pakko.  In it, he said he personally has not conducted a study on a statewide ban, but referred me to another study done by Scott Adams and Chad Cotti.  You can find that study HERE.

Mr. Pakko feels that the four months the ban has been in effect in Illinois is not sufficient enough time to actually study the effects.  He does mention that casino’s in the state have suffered large losses.  I would counter that by saying most of the casinos are on the Mississippi River (East St. Louis, Quincy, Quad Cities to name a few).  They all bordered states that up until recently did not ban smoking (Iowa just banned it).  The Joliet casinos are close enough to Indiana to which doesn’t have a smoking ban.  The Peoria casino is the only one off hand that I can think of that wouldn’t be effected by competition in a non-smoking state. 

Mr. Pakko also makes the argument that his study proves there is a demand for smoking venues. 

“While it is true that residents of Columbia have the option of leaving the city limits, the observation that they might be doing so is evidence that a market demand does exist for bars and restaurants that allow smoking.  Given that such demand exists, any prohibition (statewide or local) is likely to have an impact on business patterns. “

I have no hard proof of what I’m going to say next….just life experience.  To most people, smoking is the lesser of two vices.  It’s the alcohol that people go to the bars for.  The smoking is an added bonus.  If you can’t conviently go to a place that allows smoking, you’ll make the sacrafice and go outside.  I just don’t see banning smoking killing a well run business.

He also mentions non-compliance in Illinois.  I can’t argue that point as, again, I do know that from experience.  The problem is not in the ban itself or even local enforcement.  Illinois government is more disfunctional than you could ever imagine.  The legislature passed the bill.  The governor signed the bill.  The bill then goes to JCAR (Joint Committee on Administrative Rules) to write the specifics of the bill (ie. how it’s enforced, who enforces, etc).  The bill has been stuck there since January.  Now the legislators on JCAR are using it for political leverage.  Until there are rules, State’s Attorney’s can’t prosecute the case because they don’t know if they should prosecute as a ordinance violation or a misdeamonr or what.  Many police chiefs around the state have said, in public, that they will not write a smoking violation ticket unless bars are flagrantly taunting them to do so.  When you call the PD in Peoria, they refer you to the state’s 1-800 number set up to deal with smoking violations.  When you call, you get an answering machine so don’t expect a prompt response.

I appreciate Mr. Pakko promptly replying to my e-mails, but it still hasn’t changed my opinion.  I’ve lived in a state that has banned smoking and while economic impact may be unclear, I can tell you with 100% accuracy that it has improved the dining and nightlife experience.

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Bonnie’s Place

14 05 2008
  • 415 E. Saginaw St.Bonnie's Place
  • Lansing, MI 48906
  • (517) 372-1559
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

After winning practically every category in the Lansing City Pulse Best of…., I figured it was time to give Bonnie’s Place a try.  We had passed the quaint little bar on Saginaw a few times as we were trying to find our way to Old Town through the construction plagued streets of downtown Lansing.  Bonnie’s sits on the corner of Saginaw and Cedar Sts. just off of downtown.  We pulled into the parking lot on a pretty rainy day in Mid-Michigan and found a spot right up front.  We got there about one o’clock.  The lunch rush was just finishing up.  We were shown to a table in the non-smoking section of the bar….but I really don’t think it mattered.  The inside of Bonnie’s is pretty tiny.  There’s a bar on one side and on the other side of a half wall are two rows of booths.  My girlfriend described the dining room part of Bonnie’s as a little diner. 

The waitress came back for drink orders and we were ready to order.  Since Bonnie’s had been voted “Best Burger” I had to try the burger.  I got the Bonnie Burger.  A 1/2 lb burger was topped with 1/4 lb of shaved ham, Swiss and American cheese.  The sandwich was served in a plastic basket with a pickle spear and an order of fresh cut fries came in another basket.  Now remember, these burgers were voted best in Lansing.  My burger was huge.  The ham added a salty layer to the sandwich.  Could I call it the best burger in Lansing?  Well, that depends on the criteria for best burger.  The extra’s on the burge were unique and creative.  The actual burger patty wasn’t anything to write home about.  The sandwich as a whole was definately the best burger I’ve had since moving to Lansing, but like every other burger I’ve had, the meat didn’t stand out on it’s own.

Bonnie's PlaceMy girlfriend got the Buffalo Chicken Wrap.  The tortilla for the wrap was the really interesting thing about this sandwich.  It looked like it may have been toasted after the wrap was put together…almost pressed.  The wrap came filled with spicy buffalo chicken pieces, lettuce, tomatos, and a mayo.  The wrap only came with a pickle spear on the side, so she got an order of fries as well.  The spicyness was definately there.  On the car ride home, she was still talking about the heat.  Half of the sandwich is sitting in our fridge right now so she has lunch tomorrow.  The size of the wrap was overwhelming and more than enough for one meal.  Usually, she’ll pick most of the tomatos out of a wrap like this, but with this one, I only noticed a few pieces on her plate so the wrap must have been put together real well.

The fries were also voted best in Lansing.  We both had an order with our meal and I think we both agreed they were good.  She said many times that the fries were good.  With fresh cut fries, she feels most places under cook them.  Not the case with these fries.  They were golden brown and crispy.  I felt they needed a little something to make them the best in town.  I’ve been to a few places that have served fresh cut fries and they were all about the same.  Some kind of unique season was needed to make them stand out.

As an overall review, I loved Bonnie’s.  The small atmosphere was comfortable and the menu offered some unique, interesting items.  I would definately call Bonnie’s the best when it comes to burger combinations.  I would say they may even have the best overall burgers when you consider the condiments and add-ons.  The actual burger patty is nothing special though.  It’s the kind of place that I would love to take my parents.  The food is comforting and not so far out there that they’d be afraid to try something new.  Bonnie’s is absolutely a recommendation for dining out in Lansing.





Liveblogging – HB 4163 5/14

14 05 2008

HB 4163 wasn’t on the schedule for today, but I’ve got the webcast of today’s session on.  I’m about a half hour late because I went to lunch with my girlfriend (so that means there’s a review coming later today).  If there are any updates, I’ll update this post.

2:17 PM – Both parties are in caucus meetings now.  They’ve passed a few bills this morning, but not the one we’re waiting on.

3:07 PM  – The House has been called back to order and they’re starting business again.

3:11 PM – The House is At Ease again.

3:18 PM – Back to order

3:29 PM  – Stupid me…how about checking the bill status.  I just checked on the status HERE.  The bill has been returned from the Senate but under House rules, the bill will be layed over for one day which means they won’t vote on it until at least tomorrow.  No need to continue live blogging 😉

3:35 PM – The House has adjourned for the day.  They will reconvene at noon tomorrow and that will be the first chance they have to pass the smoking ban.