Get the facts straight on the local smoking ban

Smoking ban hurts small Minnesota businesses like Stub & Herbs.

In an Oct. 10 editorial “Minnesota needs statewide ban,” the Daily editorial board dutifully mislead the public, citing “facts” that have little basis in reality.

Claiming that “the 75 cent cigarette tax is but a drop in the bucket compared with the millions of dollars tobacco costs the state in health care and uncompensated care” is closer to guesswork than actual fact. Unlike alcohol, cigarette smokers were already paying the bill for their future health care costs before the passage of the Health Impact Fee. In a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the social costs of smoking come in at a whopping 33 cents per pack. Compare that to the $1.23 per pack that smokers pay the state in cigarette taxes, and Minnesota smokers should be eligible for a rebate program and an apology.

Second, smoking bans are being pushed by moral and political concerns, not sound science. According to cellular toxicologist Robert Nilsson of Stockholm University, the incidence of cancer caused by secondhand smoke in a population of 100,000 is two. Sunshine (23), eating seafood (12), natural arsenic in drinking water (5) and eating mushrooms (3) are all greater risks for cancer than secondhand smoke. As noted by Oxford scientist Richard Doll, one of the first scientists to establish a link between smoking and cancer, “the effects of other people smoking in my presence are so small that it doesn’t worry me.”

Lastly, and most unbelievable, is the Daily editorial board’s inability to see the negative impact on Minneapolis business owners. While the editorial staff can be forgiven for their ignorance of happenings beyond the West Bank, ample evidence of the ban’s impact can be found in their own backyard. Simply ask Sue Jeffers, owner of Stub & Herbs, what the smoking ban has meant to her. Her response may differ from what editorialists would like to believe.

Incorrect facts and misrepresentations are fine when the network page is looking for an audience, but when laziness and shoddy research are used as the basis for an editorial from the Daily as an institution, more care has to be taken.

Mark Giga is a director for the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. Matt Heimdahl is a university alumnus. Please send comments to [email protected].