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July 29, 2005

Hennepin rethinks smoking ban

This article is from the July 27, 2005 issue of the Startribune.

This article outlines how Hennepin is concidering making changes to the smoking ban. They are currently doing an economic impact study of the ban. They are thinking of making it more like the Ramsey County ban, where bars that get more that 50% of their sales from alcohol would be exempt. The story gives examples from several bars about the reduced sales. In one example, sales at a ber in minneapolis are down 35%.

I choose this article because I was against the ban from the beginning, and am glad to see they are rethinking it. I worked in a bar in the past, and can tell you that most of the people who came in were smokers. If you are a smoker and cannot drink in a bar, you are less likely to go to that bar. I used that argument with people when Hennepin was discussing the ban, and they said that more non-smokers would go to the bars because there wouldn't be so much smoke. I argued that the number of people who start going to the bars would be far less than the number that stop going.

I have seen this where I live. My town is split between Hennepin county and Wright. There is one bar on the Hennepin county side that used to be very busy. Since the ban, that bar is always empty, and there is more business at the other two. I also gave a personal example in class. Me and my friends no longer go to bars in resturants in Hennepin county because of the ban. If we don't go, then I'm sure there are a lot more people who do the same things. I go back to the best argument against the ban; these are privately owned establishments, and smoking is still legal in this country, these it should be up to the owners to decide if they want to allow smoking in their bars.

The government seems to have a love-hate relationship with smokers. They don't want us in bars and resturants, and in some cities they don't want us in parks. However, they love us when they can get more money from us by charging us with a "users fee."

Posted by at July 29, 2005 11:49 AM


I like the fact that people have to go outside to smoke for several reasons. One I donít have to come home reeking of cigarettes and I myself smoke less. That last statement might have sounded kind of contradictory but there is big difference from smoking a couple cigarettes outside and sitting in a smoke filled bar for a few hours.

As far as the loss of money because of the ban I donít think as a whole it has had much of an impact. Granted there are a few places that my have lost business but not everyone has. I used to live in Duluth and the have had a smoking ban for a while now and business there are not shutting down because of it. I am not sure if the Duluth ban is the same as Hennepin counties or not so I donít know if that is a good comparison. All in all though I donít mind the ban at all and maybe everyone should just quite smoking.

Posted by: Chuck at July 29, 2005 1:04 PM

I do not think it is possible for everyone to quick smoking. Many people I know have truly tried to quit smoking and they cannot. I know many of you are probably thinking that they probably did not try hard enough then, but believe they truly did. I do not go to bars that often, but I do think it is nice to not have to inhale so much smoke. Although, one thing that upsets me is that just because we do not smoke does make those who are addicted, wrong to smoke. It may not be for you, but who are we to judge those who smoke. I feel bad for smokers because everyone gives them so much heat for smoking. If people think that giving smokers crap for smoking is going to make them stop, then they are totally wrong. If anything it is going to push them to smoke more due to anger. People who have smoked for 30 cannot just stop smoking. This is an addiction. Yes, some may be able to do that, but not everyone is the same. I personally am in the middle of this issue. I see both sides and I am not a smoker.

Posted by: Dianna at July 29, 2005 1:21 PM

I've been on both sides of this fence. I used to smoke when more and more restaurants were going smoke free, and I hated it. After I quit smoking, I appreciated the fact that many more restaurants and public places were smoke free, but smokers should have someplace where they can relax and enjoy themselves too. I can enjoy a smoke free environment just about anywhere I go anymore, and there are plenty of smoke free restaurants where I can go to have a drink. In a perfect world, everyone would quit smoking. But then it would probably cost you thirty bucks for a margarita.

Posted by: Patti at July 29, 2005 10:20 PM

I think that if you know you are going to a bar, you should expect there will be smoking.

If you don't want to go, you have that choice. I too am a non-smoker, but I think the bars and some restaurants are being effected negatively by decreased sales. My daughter works at a liquor store and the owner of the store, as well as several area restaurants, is losing lots of business.

If the bar/restaurant doesn't have the extra money to add an outside patio, you really lose out. And, what will happen during the winter months? Obviously, people won't want to sit outside just to smoke, and there will be less customers -- less revenue.

I think the decision should be up to the individual bars and restaurants -- not the government. I mean, they already added 75 cents per pack in taxes.... I mean, in fees. What more do they want?

People are not going to quit smoking. Personally, I wish we lived in a non-smoking world where everybody got along with each other, there was world peace, and everyone was healthy and lived a long a prosperous life.

Posted by: Debbie at August 2, 2005 4:30 PM

There is certainly a heap of blam to place on Hennepin County for enacting this ban, but how come no one is blaming the smokers for not going to bars anymore? Is smoking that important to them that they can't just go and enjoy a meal without a smoke? I also think some blame should be placed on those who say things like "I never go out in Hennepin County after they passed that ban" because they are the ones killing these bars.

And please, smoking is not a right. We don't have the right to smoke anymore than we have the right to unleash poison gas in a crowded space (which is essentially what smoking is to those of us who don't do it). But then again maybe it's tucked away right behind the right to privacy in the Constitution.

Posted by: Kevin at August 9, 2005 11:14 AM

Very thoughtful comments from one and all. We blog on the subject frequently, and we invite all to visit.

Robert Moffitt
Communications Director
American Lung Association of Minnesota

Posted by: Bob from the Lung Association at August 17, 2005 3:01 PM