Tuesday, March 11, 2008

WISPIRG Report: Smoke and Mirrors: Tobacco Industry Claims Unfounded

Thanks to Bruce Speight from WISPIRG for this guest post!

WISPIRG’s new report, Smoke and Mirrors: Tobacco Industry Claims Unfounded, is further evidence that we can have smoke-free bars and a healthy economy. We found that requests for liquor licenses in Madison and Appleton have increased since the implementation of the smoke-free ordinances in those communities, with 365 licensed liquor establishments in Madison in January 2008 compared to 332 in July 2005 before the ordinance, and for the first time ever in Appleton there is a continuous waiting list for Class B liquor licenses (with 8 currently on the waiting list). The average assessed property value in business districts in both communities has also increased since implementation.

In addition, the report summarizes findings from nine peer-reviewed scientific studies that were selected for their geographic and demographic diversity to help demonstrate similar conclusions have been made in different communities. Regardless of the variables, including the size of communities, the outcomes are consistent: smoke-free policies either had a neutral or positive economic impact.

It's no surprise that Big Tobacco and its allies are trying to scare us with tales of economic ruin. The question is: are we going to let Big Tobacco define the public health agenda in Wisconsin, or are we going to implement public policy that protects public health and reduces asthma, heart attacks, and lung cancer in Wisconsin?

To view the report, visit www.wispirg.org.

Bruce Speight is the public interest advocate for WISPIRG. Bruce started his work with PIRG as a campus organizer in both Massachusetts and Wisconsin. After that, Bruce was the program director of Massachusetts Community Water Watch, an Americorps program. Before assuming his current position, Bruce was the state field director for Wisconsin's New Voters Project. Bruce is a 1996 graduate of Bowdoin College.

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