Richmond, Virginia (PRWEB) January 12, 2009
With nearly 70 percent of restaurants statewide already declaring themselves smoke-free, why would Virginia lawmakers be discussing proposals for a legislated smoking ban when the marketplace is already making that happen?
That's the question being asked by Gary Pesh, the incoming president of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association on behalf of the organization's three dozen members and hundreds of thousands of their customers throughout the Commonwealth.
"Any public policy that puts small businesses in jeopardy of jobs, tax receipts and profits should not be welcome at any time, especially during the next several years which are predicted to be economically critical," according to Pesh, president of Old Virginia Tobacco Company.
Pesh says the IPCPR represents more than 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars worldwide. The vast majority of those retail members are small businesses - mom-and-pop operations that serve their local communities, employ local residents and support worthwhile non-profit organizations. All of them pay local, state and federal income, payroll, sales and excise taxes, he added.
"No less an independent economic authority than the Federal Reserve Bank has concluded that smoking bans, wherever they occur, hurt businesses, especially bars and restaurants. Their findings include studies based on data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding areas impacted by legislated smoking bans that found 'statistically significant employment declines at bars, with loss estimates in employment ranging from four percent to 16 percent'," Pesh said.
Chris McCalla, the IPCPR legislative director, also urged legislators and voters to consider the source and context of information that alleges secondhand smoke to have negative health aspects.
"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is charged with protecting the well-being of employees in the workplace, has established secondhand smoke standards well above the range which might be found in any bar or restaurant," McCalla said.
"In fact, secondhand smoke air quality testing in such workplaces conducted by the American Cancer Society shows typical secondhand smoke concentrations up to 25,000 times safer even than those already-liberal OSHA standards. And testing by the prestigious Oak Ridge National Laboratory confirms that results of air quality testing of secondhand smoke in bars and restaurants was 'considerably below limits established by OSHA'," he said.
Pesh also said that business owners have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to make their establishments smoke-free.
"It's a basic principle on which our nation was founded and one that Virginia, of all places, should embrace," he said.
tony @ tortoricipr.com