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Economic effect of smoking bans hard to pin down

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis –

The St. Louis County council is still hammering out the details of a proposed indoor smoking ban. Late last month, the lawmakers canceled a vote on the bill, citing concerns from Harrah's Casino and other business owners.

Both supporters and opponents of the ban agree the heart of the issue is economics. Bar owners argue it will drive away customers. But anti-smoking advocates say other establishments will benefit because they'll get more business from people who won't light up.

Michael Pakko is an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He studied the effects of smoking bans in several places around the country. Pakko told KWMU's Matt Sepic the jury is still out on whether the laws are having any effect at all.

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