Smoking Ban Shocker!


Huge news out of Connecticut: The state's criminalization of smoking in bars has led to -- are you sitting down? -- less smoke in bars!

Supporters of Connecticut's comprehensive smoking ban said it would clear the air in bars and restaurants. New research shows it has done just that.

Researchers took before-and-after air samples in seven Hartford establishments that allowed smoking before the state ban went into full effect on April 1. Within weeks after the ban took effect, the levels of fine, airborne particles that are released in large numbers by burning cigarettes dropped 76 percent.

The watering holes where air was sampled - first on March 25 and then on April 23 - were Bourbon Street North, Black-Eyed Sally's, Coach's Sports Bar & Grille, On the Rocks, McKinnon's Irish Pub, The Half Door and The Spigot Caf?.

This study was conducted by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. Glad to know the fight against cancer is going so well that there's money to burn on a study confirming the absolute obvious. But the research did yield one unexpected finding:

The only surprise in the study, [researcher Mark] Travers said, was that average particle levels from the first readings were somewhat lower than in other cities that have been evaluated. The reason, Travers said, was that the Hartford establishments are larger and have higher ceilings than many of the bars and restaurants tested elsewhere in the country. As a result, a greater volume of air diluted a comparable amount of smoke, he said.

The lower baseline average, he said, led to a slightly lower decline in post-ban measures, compared with some other cities. The 76 percent drop in Hartford compares with an 82 percent reduction in a study of seven cities that have enacted smoking bans. A before-and-after study in Delaware found a 90 percent drop.

Here's the Hartford Courant's story: "Study: Smoking Ban Has Cleared Air" (reg. required).

(Given the news, a better headline would have been: "Study: Smoking Ban Less Effective Than in Other States")