Bar business up in Savannah in first smokefree year

There will be endless and sometimes legitimate arguments against limitations to smoking, especially indoor smoking in bars. A new ordinance to that effect was just passed for Chatham County, mirroring the ordinance enacted in the city of Savannah at the beginning of 2011.

It’s possible that the new ordinance will hurt a few individual businesses, but the idea that it would kill Savannah’s nightlife scene has been proven wrong. My regular spots kept humming right along as the ban was implemented, and now we have clear evidence that the smoking ban has had minimal impact on business citywide (and that impact may have been positive). From Orlando Montoya’s recent piece on GPB:

Some bars complained about losing customers after the ban went into effect last year in January.

But many employees report feeling much better at the end of the day.

“Overwhelmingly in the downtown area, there was very positive feedback,” [Chatham County Health Dept’s Christine] Gibson says. “They really enjoyed the better air and they said that their patrons did as well.”

City officials, however, acknowledge some bars in other parts of the city lost business after the ban.

But overall, Savannah made more in drink taxes last year.

City revenue on both mixed drinks and alcohol distribution to bars and restaurants increased about 4%.