• The truth on bar smoking ban
    March 01,2005

    In reference to the story "Smoking ban for bars on Legislative agenda" on Feb. 14 by John Zicconi, all I can say is "Hogwash."

    I own a successful bar in Greenwich Village. In 2004, we were voted the Best Lounge in New York by CitySearch. My business is down 30 percent since 2002. Since nothing has changed but the smoking ban, I can attribute this precipitous drop to nothing else.

    It's remarkable to read that "A New York City official on Thursday will travel to Vermont to testify that Big Apple pub receipts have increased 12 percent since the city's ban went into affect in 2003" since not even Mayor Bloomberg has been able to wrestle the actual statistic for bars ONLY out of the state's finance department. The information they're peddling combines tax receipts for bars and restaurants including places like McDonalds and Starbucks. This is like comparing a wolf to a Shih Tzu; anyone with any sense knows they're completely different beasts.

    New York officials are doing their level best to cover up the fact that for many small businesses the smoking ban is an unmitigated disaster. They say that compliance is at 98 percent. That's such utter nonsense I don't even know where to begin. They say that no one is hurting, using tax information that cannot possibly represent the truth, while fines for noise complaints and capricious health code violations slowly pick away at our sanity.

    All I can say is this: I'm a life-long non-smoker and I hated the way my bar smelled. I, too, figured that I'd wait and see. That it couldn't be THAT bad. I've had to cut eight staff, the ones left work fewer hours, and I haven't taken a paycheck since August. It's that bad.

    The pub owners in Vermont need to pull their heads out of the sand in time to save themselves. Or, like us, they'll be fighting for their livelihoods while their plight is actively ignored by those who might help.

    This includes, by the way, the media, which seems to have jumped onto the no-smoking bandwagon with both feet and no regard for journalistic integrity. Frankly, I'd be surprised if an opposing viewpoint ever sees the light of day.

    Amy McCloskey New York, N.Y.

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