It’s only a handful of weeks before Charleston goes smoke free. The benefit of others experiences may improve bar owners spirits, with a recent Washington study showing that a ban in the state had limited impact.

Gross business income for taverns and bars grew 0.3 percent in 2006, compared with a 1.1 percent average annual growth rate from 2002 to 2005, according to the state Department of Revenue.

“Although the (Revenue Department) has not attempted to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the ban and business revenues, the numbers suggest that bars and taverns may have lost some smokers, but gained customers drawn to a smoke-free environment. While some drinking places may have been hard hit by the ban, overall the industry appears to have been able to adapt,” state officials said in a statement.

Though it’s important to note that the impacts may have been muted because it was a statewide ban as opposed to a ban limited to the city limits. But then, another story notes other bar sales were up.

Alcohol and food sales were 3.6 percent higher in 2006, compared to a 2.1 percent average annual growth rate in 2002-05. Gross income at non-tribal gambling businesses was down by 9.8 percent in 2006, according to Revenue Department figures issued Monday.