Las Vegas Sun

August 19, 2014

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health care column:

Closer look at smoking ban

Maybe the clean indoor air initiative passed by voters in 2006 wasn’t quite as bad as tavern and restaurant owners thought it was.

A study by UNLV researchers that tracked data from 1999 to this year’s first quarter found Nevada’s Clean Indoor Air Act has had “very little” negative effect locally.

The researchers compared the quarterly based trends of restaurant and bar employment rates, shop openings, taxable sales, slot gaming revenue and slot tax collection in Clark County for the past 10 years.

One complaint tavern and restaurant owners had as the bill was being considered by voters was that by prohibiting smoking in any establishment that serves food, it would drive customers away. This, in turn, would force layoffs and a drop in sales.

But the research shows employment started decreasing in 2006’s second quarter for the majority of industries bound by the law, several months before the initiative was passed. Also, those same industries bucked the trend of rising unemployment and added jobs in early 2008.

Taxable sales in taverns and restaurants began dropping in March 2006. Those sales followed countywide taxable sales trends in 2007 and 2008.

Food and beverage stores’ taxable sales did not decrease until 2007’s third quarter.

What role the recession, now in its 17th month, had in the survey’s results is hard to tell since consumers have been cutting back on discretionary spending for more than a year.

Slot machine revenue and collections dropped immediately after the law went into effect in January 2007, but quickly picked back up in that year’s second quarter.

The downward trends for slot revenue follow total gaming revenue, the study

said.

The researchers expect to release a

full report this fall. The research team included professors from UNLV’s nursing and health care administration and policy departments. The university’s Center for Business and Economic Research and the Southern Nevada Health District also contributed.

• • •

A revision to soften the Clean Indoor Air Act is making its way through the state Legislature. If passed, bars and taverns that serve food would again be able to permit smoking so long as they keep minors out.

That seems to be a compromise for businesses and the people who voted for the bill with the intent of protecting children from secondhand smoke.

Those businesses could be fined $1,000 if minors are allowed in to a smoking-permitted facility.

Businesses could still elect to ban smoking from their facilities.

Smoking at private tobacco-related events at convention centers would also be allowed.

In other news:

Kudos to Anderine Cowan, MGM Mirage’s construction diversity manager. She was recently presented the annual Keys for Economic Success award by the Theta Theta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, an organization that promotes black and women diversity.

Cowan helped create a two-day construction and business management training program for diverse companies contracted to build CityCenter on the Strip.

The program focused on technical, business and management essentials in the construction industry, allowing the participants to strengthen their business and leadership skills, increase their project management proficiency and maximize their potential for project success.

“Anderine’s volunteer and professional works are the embodiment of the ‘Keys for Economic Success’ award,” Celeste Brown of Theta Theta Omega said in a statement. “Her willingness to share her expertise with diverse construction, engineering and consulting firms is worthy of recognition and an excellent example of what can be achieved through hard work, determination and partnership.”

Representatives from 58 companies graduated from the program.

“Ms. Cowan works very hard behind the scenes not only to guarantee the success of CityCenter, but also to ensure that our community reaps the many benefits from the project over the long term,” William Smith, president of MGM Mirage Design Group, said in a statement.

Other awards given were nontraditional entrepreneur, the economic growth of the black family, economic educational

advancement through technology, and health resource management and economics.

Nicole Lucht covers health care, workplace and banking issues for In Business Las Vegas and its sister publication, the Las Vegas Sun. She can be reached at 259-8832 or at [email protected]

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