Some Bars Plan Smoking-Ban Protest

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

LANSING -- Mike Ryan says the smoking ban is killing his business.

"Stupid. I thought these people aren't very smart who run the state," says Ryan, who owns Auggie's Pub in Lansing. He says he's seen a 25 percent drop in sales since the smoking ban went into effect in May, and no sign that the bleeding will stop anytime soon.

"It'll get worse in the winter, 'cause people aren't gonna want to go outside when it's 0 degrees out," he says.

But Ryan says he won't be part of a state-wide protest planned for New Year's Eve. At 9 p.m. on December 31, some businesses are going to let the customers smoke -- as a protest to the smoking ban.

(The fine for first-time offenders is $100, increasing with each offense from there.)

Auggie's, after all, isn't the only local bar feeling the pinch. A new survey by the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association shows that since the law went into effect, sales are down more than 20 percent at businesses holding liquor licenses.

And for mom-and-pop bars -- it's worse.

"The average for that group is a drop in sales of about 30 percent," says Peter Broderick, spokesman for the MLBA. "These are the small mom-and-pop places -- places that have been in the community for decades."

But that number is disputed by the state, which says sales tax collections have actually increased since the law took effect -- suggesting that most businesses that sell alcohol are actually doing better.

Restaurants, for one, have seen a jump in sales under the new law, as more non-smokers feel comfortable going out for a bite.

Though that does little to comfort Ryan, who says his restaurant is on the verge of collapse.

"It's getting closer and closer," he says. "Every month, it seems to go down little by little."


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