Smoking snuffed statewide
Kevin Cederstrom firstname.lastname@example.org The days of smoke-filled bars in Minnesota will soon be gone. Gov. Tim Pawlenty last week signed a statewide smoking ban bill, which goes into effect Oct. 1. The bill bans smoking in virtually every public place, i...
The days of smoke-filled bars in Minnesota will soon be gone. Gov. Tim Pawlenty last week signed a statewide smoking ban bill, which goes into effect Oct. 1. The bill bans smoking in virtually every public place, including bars, restaurants and bingo halls, with a few minor exceptions.
"This is something whose time has come," Pawlenty said. The GOP governor said the ban will help make citizens "more aware about the dangers of smoking itself, but also and importantly the dangers of secondhand smoke."
Opponents of the bill argued that it will hurt small bars throughout rural Minnesota and force many of them to close their doors. They also contend that a dip in bar business will reduce the number of dollars going into pull tabs and other charitable gambling.
Sandy Barthel, Mills Liquors Manager, expects to see a negative effect on business come Oct. 1. She said smokers that regularly come to the municipally-owned bar in New York Mills, are upset and feel their rights are being infringed upon.
Barthel said it's hard to predict exactly what kind of effect the ban will have on business, but the trend is already moving to more offsale and less onsale. The cause of that trend seems to be because of tougher DUI laws and the lower legal limit for drinking and driving.
Owen and Dolly Tumberg own Mills Lanes and the Bar on Main. Owen also feels smokers' rights are being taken away and agrees with Barthel in that they could see more people buying offsale and drinking at home.
The NY Mills V.F.W., which does steady pull tab business and runs successful bingo games weekly, also stands to see the negative effects of the ban.
A concern with most bars similar to those in Mills is traditionally drinking, smoking and pull tabs have gone hand-in-hand. Take away the smoking and the other two could be affected.
The governor acknowledged some individual businesses may be hurt by the ban, but said in other states with smoking bans "the overall volume of restaurants and hospitality industry generally increased."
The statewide ban doesn't prohibit smoking outside of restaurants or bars. It does, however, give local governments the ability to enact tougher no-smoking measures such as prohibiting people from lighting up outside of bars.
Minnesota will become the 20th state to have such a law banning smoking statewide.
The House of Representatives passed the smoking ban bill 81-48 after about two hours of debate. The Senate passed it 43-21 nearly 12 hours earlier.
The bill was a compromise drawn from earlier proposals the House and Senate passed. Much of the House debate centered on a provision in the bill representatives earlier had passed allowing smoking rooms in bars. House and Senate negotiators dropped it over the objection of many lawmakers.
The new provision allows - but does not require - local government to ban smoking outside bars, restaurants and bingo halls.
The governor said Minnesotans will look back on the decision 10 years from now and say, "of course, we should have done it sooner."
Of the legislators representing this area, Representatives Dean Simpson (R) and Bud Nornes (R) both voted no, while Senator Dan Skogen (DFL) voted in favor of the bill.