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Senate Approves State-Wide Smoking Ban

The Minnesota Senate voted to approve a state-wide smoking ban Tuesday that would eliminate most indoor smoking in public areas.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Mark Brunswick. This story reported that the vote was approved 41-24 in the Senate. The Brunswick version reported that the smoking ban would take effect on Aug. 1. The story also reported how the ban would affect residents of the state of Minnesota.

The bill prohibits smoking in public places, aboard public transportation and at public meetings. Violations would be petty misdemeanors.

The story did report that there were options for bars and restaurants that would allow them to help with the loss of indoor smoking.

The measure allows bars, restaurants and bingo halls to build outdoor smoking patios. Electricity and heating would be allowed on the patios but not food or beverage service.

The story reported that workers who lost their jobs because of this smoking ban would be eligible for state assistance. The story finally reported that this bill still faces many hurdles in the House before it is approved but it appears that Gov. Tim Pawlenty would approve any measure that would reach his desk.

I think that the big issue with this story is the ability to get any substantial quotes for a bill that has simply passed the Senate. In this case I feel like the big issue was that this story wasn’t particularly newsworthy. This story is very preliminary so there wasn’t too much information to be had but the fact that the bill was passed needed to be reported, it’ just that there wasn’t much information to accompany the story.

A second version ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger. This version reported much of the same information. It was interesting to note that this version elected to run a quote in the second graph.

"I ask this body to have the political courage to vote yes today," said Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel.

I thought that the quote was slightly out of place and that it didn’t really add anything to the story. I know that I have trouble choosing quotes effectively but this quote seemed a little ridiculous. This story attempted to illustrate that there were opponents to the bill that tried to get things removed from the bill.

The measure had been to six Senate committees and changed a little at each stop. On the Senate floor today, members tried and failed to exempt bars, exempt private clubs, include public places on Indian reservations and allow cities to opt out of the ban through a referendum.

Both of these stories lacked a lot of background information and a lot of quotes. There wasn’t any background about why the bill was introduced or why it was introduced now. I thought that the majority of cities and counties already had smoking bans in place, so I would have liked to know why this measure is so important. I thought that both stories were acceptable. I felt like the Stassen-Berger version was a little too short and lacked some key information about how the bill would affect bars and restaurants. For this reason I really felt like the Brunswick version was more appealing. I thought that the Brunswick version was suffering form a lack of quotes but the information was presented pretty well.