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Health Officials Tell Bars- No More "Theater Nights"

Health Department officials issued an ultimatum Wednesday for Minnesota bar owners attempting to get around the smoking ban by holding "theater nights."

The Star Tribune reported officials said the practice of declaring bar patrons actors and hanging up a blaybill, does not constitute a theatrical production, which is exempt from the smoking ban, and there will consequence according to state officials.

The "performances" have been successful in learning back customers who were lossed after the ban and has revived bar business, the paper said.

State Health Commissioner Sanne Magnan told the paper the theatrical exemption was never intended be used for the benefit of smokers and the state can fine violators up to $10,000.

But bar owners doubt the consequences, one of them claiming they held "theater nights" after health officials warnings and have not been penalized reported the Star Tribune.

There is some confusion over who will be enforcing the law. State health officials told the paper they will work with local agencies to bring the bars into compliance, while other local health officials said it will be left up to the state.

the issue may go to court, said Rob Fulton, director of St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health.

The Star Tribune reported some bar owners hope that the popularity of "theater nights will cause legislatures to comproise the ban, but Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, one of the ban's leading proponents, said there will be no compromise.

Magnan said the law was created to protect Minnesotans from the effects of second hand smoke and all establishments are expected to comply. The paper reported she said her department iddued the statement on Wednesday to make it clear "theater nights" would not be tolerated.