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Minnesota Legislature Discussing Repealing Part of Its Smoking Ban

Image: graur codrin /
Image: graur codrin /

Image: graur codrin /

Supportive of a smoking ban or opposed, its controversial debate has certainly made headline news, especially in recent months. Many have studied similar bans of neighboring states and communities, particularly in Minnesota, for insight on the success or failure of such a ban.

Recently, the Bismarck City Commission passed an extension of the city’s smoking ban to include all bars. That action was challenged through a circulated petition, which has trigged a special election for a public vote on the issue April 19.

Just as the momentum to establish full smoking bans in communities across North Dakota has increased, Minnesota Legislatures are now discussing a proposal that would actually repeal part of its own smoking ban.

According to a StarTribune article, the proposal appears to have a large amount of support by legislatures, from both parties.

The effects from Minnesota’s state-wide smoking ban, which was passed in 2007, has often been cited by both supporters and opponents of the smoking ban.

The recent proposal in the Minnesota Legislature would allow smoking in bars that provide a separate room, completely sealed off from the adjoining restaurant with its own ventilation system that would exchange indoor air every two hours.

The proposal offers 3 different deadlines to implement the required alterations, depending on the amount of food served at an establishment, ranging from 2012-2017.

Minnesota bar owners are divided on the issue. Many owners over the years have cited a significant drop in business, while others have claimed to see no negative effects from the ban.

Many supporters of the smoking ban have suggested that any drop in revenue was due to the economic recession. Perhaps that’s true to a certain degree, however, the recession didn’t officially take-hold until after several bars and charitable gambling organizations already cited a decline of revenue.

Even prior to a state-wide ban, Hennepin County – the highest populated county in the state, had passed a smoking ban in Spring 2005 – nearly 2 full years prior the recession. Negative effects from the ban were already being reported at that time.

Furthermore, many reports have stated that bars are “recession proof”. Some studies have even indicated a typical uptick in bar revenue during recessions.

No matter what side of the debate you’re on, Minnesota’s consideration of reducing the restraints of their own smoking ban should make for an interesting discussion. Will a repeal of Minnesota’s ban, in anyway, affect the efforts to passing a full-out ban in our own state?