5.06.2009

Gettin' payed

The Wisconsin State Journal, which is generally in favor of a statewide smoking ban, reports that the economic downturn looks like it's going to have major consequences for Wisconsin:
Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, a member of the Legislature’s budget committee, said that a worsening economy and falling tax collections could add as much as a $1.2 billion to a projected state budget deficit that was already nearly $6 billion earlier this year.

So you'd think that the state would be doing everything in its power to keep open every current revenue stream it's got. You'd be wrong:
I manage Havana Lounge & Cigar in West Allis, WI. We entertain cigar smokers, have $250,000 worth of cigars in our humidor (the average cost per cigar is $9.00), we spent an initial $10,000 in air cleaners and another $8,000/yr maintaining them. We pay approximately $60,000/yr in tobacco and sales tax. The owner of the Lounge also owns the building and pays $7,000 in property tax and an additional $1,500 in property tax on the business. This lounge is for cigar smokers who want the best possible environment to enjoy their cigars. Unlike cigarettes, it may take up to an hour to smoke a cigar. You cannot just go outside and have a quick smoke. No one enters the lounge without the knowledge that everyone in here is smoking. We are in the process of expanding our business to allow our patrons an even more comfortable atmosphere.

Kathy, who runs the cigar bar in question, lays out the hard numbers at the link.

I'll say it again: the ban is a cheapening of the ideals of local control, free markets, and personal responsibility.

But it's getting closer to reality.