You are here

RAMW Survey Reflects Negative Impact by Smoking Ban

May 1, 2007
For Immediate Release:
April 30, 2007
Andrew J. Kline 202.686.7600

Restaurant Association Survey Reflects Businesses Negatively Affected By Smoking Ban as Hardship Waivers Become Available

The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (“RAMW”) reports that a survey of members reflects that D.C restaurants, bars and nightclubs have been affected by the mandatory smoking ban. Over 35% of those responding to the survey reported a decline in revenue since the ban took effect, with one respondent reporting a 50% decrease in revenue.

“As we expected, and as has been reported in other jurisdictions adopting them, businesses are hurt by mandatory smoking bans”, said Andrew J. Kline, General Counsel of RAMW.   “Most affected are our local restaurant and bar businesses”, said Kline.

Lynne Breaux, President of RAMW, expressed concern for the survival of locally owned and operated restaurants and bars, which the survey reflects have been most impacted by the ban.  “It will be unfortunate if any one of our local entrepreneurs, each of which have worked hard to make D.C a great nightlife city, become a casualty to this government mandate”, said Breaux.

The RAMW survey was concluded as hardship waivers become available under the regulations which were put in place by Mayor Adrian Fenty. As of May 1, any business which can demonstrate a drop in gross revenues of 15% or more can apply to the Department of Health for temporary relief from the mandatory smoking ban. The regulations sent to the Council of the District of Columbia for approval by then Mayor Anthony Williams in December, only required businesses to show a 5% drop in revenue. 

According to Breaux, there may be businesses already in trouble which cannot meet the new standard for a hardship waiver. “With restaurants averaging, nationally, only a 4% margin of profit, a restaurant which has suffered a 5% decline in revenues may already be in trouble”, stated Breaux.

In addition, Mayor Williams proposed the creation of a Tobacco Board, an impartial body to consider waiver requests. Under the Fenty regulations, decisions concerning waivers are left to the Department of Health. Kline expressed concern for a fair process. “The waiver requests must be considered fairly, or the waiver process put in place by the Council when the ban was passed will be meaningless.  RAMW will be watching this process closely”, said Kline.