why smokeless bars don't succeed

I know that smokers always claim that smoking in bars is ok, because if there was demand for smokeless bars they’d be some. However, I figure there’s some kind of economic problem going on here, but can’t put my finger on it. Is it possible that attracting smokers is just more advantageous enough that they force all bars to allow smoking? Sort of like when enough people in your small town want to shop at wal-mart, everybody has to end up shopping at wal-mart because those few people who want to are enough to cause the down-town to close.

I dunno…seems like something is there :smack: …no?

New York City is full of successful smokeless bars and restaurants.

So is the much smaller city of Lawrence, KS. Completely smoke free indoors. No one’s closed yet.

:rolleyes: He was asking about the economics of non-smoking bars - in an environment, obviously, in which they compete with ones that allow smoking.

We should know how this pans out in Montreal, soon. Restaurants and bars just went smokeless.

I’m going to have to hunt round for some stats here, but when the whole ‘smoking-ban debate’ was going on in the UK, I remember hearing that smokers, statistically, are heavier drinkers than non-smokers, so any bar owner with a business brain would rather attract smokers than non-smokers.

This certainly doesn’t mean that all bars are forced to be smoking, and indeed, in a world full of smoking bars, it does present a gap in the market for targetting non-smokers who hate smoking. My personal experience amongst my peers, however, is that non-smokers and smokers generally prefer to coexist rather than cut themselves off from their friends.

Of course the solution to all of this is to ban smoking in bars entirely, which is what the UK is bringing into force in summer 2007.

It is a good question. I have always wondered if a smokeless bar would catch on. Many of my friends don’t smoke and don’t want to be around smoke. However, I see bars and restaurants come and go all the time. I suspect that being competitive is tough enough that no one wants to try an untested strategy.

One of my favorite bars is smokeless, and it’s part of the reason why I love it. Also, no TVs and fantastic, locally-brewed beer on tap. They’re very successful, although I’m sure it has to do with the beer and the music more so than the clean air.

you are forgetting that non smokers easily out number smokers 4-1 or more.

Washington went smokless (king county?) recently and shockingly enough noone is out of business.

It’s a good question, and I wonder if this is one of those things that is governed by inertia. Let’s look at the opposite situation: suppose that, for example, CA lifted its ban on smoking in bars. Would all bars eventually revert back to smoking bars? I don’t thinks so-- I think a few would pop up here and there, but that most bars would remain smoke-free.

My guess is that the free market would have taken us to that situation eventually, even if smoking hadn’t been banned-- ie, that most bars in CA would be smoke-free. People’s tollerance for smoke filled rooms is much, much lower today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. I think it was a matter of timing rather than an impossible barrier to break thru. Maybe it would have take a few more years, but the % of people who smoke in this state has been declining for a long time (and it’s well below the national average). There were a number of bars in my area that went smoke-free before the legal ban. How things would develop in other places probably depends on the % of smokers in the population.

Secondhand smoke-free bars and restaurants seem to be doing just fine. Several studies have shown that warnings from business lobbyists about a serious drop-off in business are not occurring.

One example. New York City has had a similar experience.

It’s nearly 5:1.

Despite the usual dire warnings from some bar and restaurant owners, we’ve had the same “shocking” lack of bar and restaurant closures here in central Ohio following passage of antismoking referendums.

I can only speak to my own habits. I don’t patronize the local resturants which don’t allow smoking. When we go to the nearest large city (which has banned indoor smoking) I drive to a suburb when I want to go to a bar or resturant.

Anecdotally, I once spoke to a hotel bar tender. His bar was located right on the line, so to speak-- the place across the street allowed smoking. He said that, yes, his business had been hurt. (When I was there, Hubby and I were the only people in the bar, and we didn’t stay.)

I think it’s a combination of a few factors.

In general, I think that a smoker’s preference for a smoking bar is stronger than a nonsmoker’s preference for a nonsmoking bar.

Inertia also has something to do with it. Allowing smoking has been the standard for a long time. For someone to change their bar to not allow smoking would alienate many of their customers, and without good advertising, might not bring in new ones fast enough to replace them. For a new bar to open that doesn’t allow smoking adds the risk of the unknown to the already substantial risks of a new business.

Since bars (and to a lesser extent restaurants) have powerful positive feedback mechanisms based on popularity (many people will go to a bar or restaurant just because it’s a popular place), a change that dissuades a small number of people directly can have much larger indirect effects.

My community does not allow smoking in bars. The community right next door does. So far, I see very little effect except one or two very unsavory bars claiming they’ve had to close because they lost their smoker consumer base. Since these places showed up dispropotionately on the police blotter (for fights etc.), I don’t know if their assertion is true, and I’m not sorry to see them go, in any event.

Ok, it’s been well established that if *all * the bars go smokeless, there is no downturn in business.

It’s also been posted here IIRC that smokeless bars in areas where smoking is OK are very rare, but do OK when they do occur.

So, the problem seems to be- why don’t more bars (in areas when smoking is legal) go non-smoking?

And for that, I have a WAG: bar owners don’t want to lose even 30% of potential customers, and for years, non-smokers would go into smoking bars. So, they figure- “just allow smoking and we’ll get both customer bases”. I think that this logic is no longer correct. Non-smokers are no longer tolerant of smoking, and although they will go bar-hopping into smoking bars sometimes if that’s all that’s available, they won’t if there’s a choice, and slowly- they won’t at all. This seems to be more or less what iamthewalrus(:3= and **John Mace ** said.

Well, the bars that appeal to barely-legal yuppies in training do well. The old square house-type place doesn’t.

Anyway, regarding the OP: Just before smoking in bars was illegal here, there were three bars still open that were non-smoking. They did a pretty good business, though two have closed since then. I would imagine if a bartender could get a job in a smoking bar nearby, you would have to pay him or her more to work at your place, where they have to choose between missing out on smoie tips due to a foul mood, or due to the fact that they were outside smoking.

Also, non-smokers are more likely to be concerned about their health (please just this once can we not have someone tell me about a friend who doesn’t smoke and is not concerned about his health, while another smokes cigarettes, but tries to compensate by being a health nut in every other way? Just this once?) They are more likely to spend a lot of money at the bar than a non-smoker. (Not absolutely going to. More likely).

One of the local suburbs has banned smoking in bars and restaurants, while the surrounding suburbs still allow it. The owners in that suburb are complaining that they’ve lost business.

OTOH, several clubs around here are banning smoking voluntarily and reporting an increase in business.

Just my WAG here, but maybe because the clubs all feature live entertainment, their smoking customers are willing to tolerate the ban because they want to see the performers, while the bars and restaurants where smoking is banned tend to be quite similar to the ones in neighboring suburbs, and they’re losing the smokers.

My guess would be that it’s due to mixed company. If you’re in a group of friends, and even one is a smoker, if you’re going to a bar, you’re going to the one that allows smoking.

All* bars and restaurants in California are smoke-free. I think California’s kinda big, too, IIRC.

*:I think there a few exeptions for employee-less places, or something like that, I think.

Montgomery County Maryland banned smoking in all public service establishments, bars included. Business is up since the change.

Financial doom and gloom is not indicated as a consequence of not smoking, by actual trial.