Is the smoking ban next?

A group of lawmakers at the Capitol is looking to roll back part of the statewide smoking ban in bars and restaurants.

The legislators today filed a bill that would allow people in bars to smoke if the facility installs a ventilation system to remove the smoke, and a closed door separates the bar from the restaurant.

It’s a measure that was added to the 2007 smoking ban legislation as it made its way through the Minnesota Senate, but it was eventually removed before lawmakers passed the legislation and sent it to Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

  • Bob Moffitt

    The Legislature had the right idea when they snuffed this out in 2007.

    Unlikely.

  • Brian

    The comments I’ve heard — even from smokers — is that they like the smoke-free atmosphere in the bars and restaurants they frequent. This just seems like one side eager to undo anything that the other side had done — sort of their own twisted version of change when it’s really just two steps back.

  • Michael

    The ban has not resulted in any serious places losing any serious business, and I’d guess that more business has been gained from people who are now willing to go out than that which has been lost. I for one will happily enter a place now that I would avoid in the past because of the fumes from a few. And, anybody knows that there is no such thing as a system that can remove that smell from the air or the things in the room — It’s an impossibility. (Witness the three day process a hotel room must go through to ‘de-smoke’ a non-smoking room after one jerk breaks the rules. That stuff just sticks and won’t let go.)

  • Joanna

    Please, no! as someone who is violently allergic to cigarette smoke, I am so grateful not to be excluded from public places because of this health issue, and I know I’m not alone.

  • We have been through this before. ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers, has stated flatly that the technology does not exist to effectively eliminate the health risks associated with indoor smoking.

    Robert Moffitt

    Communications Director

    American Lung Association in Minnesota

  • Knoodles

    Wisconsin has smoking rooms. If they want to smoke here in MN, make them sit in there own little contaminated room.

  • Momkat

    I’m an exsmoker since 1987. A year ago or so Dadkat and I went to a play in Hudson and stopped at a bar after, forgetting Wisconsin didn’t have a ban as yet. It was unbearable. Smoking rooms still put the servers at risk.

  • Momkat

    And how ironic that the bill first comes up in a HEALTH and Human Services committee.

  • John P.

    Is anyone really surprised by this? Getting government out of the free market is a core Republican value.

    So much for the agenda being jobs, jobs, jobs.

  • Disco

    WTF, are you kidding me? Dayton’s veto pen better have plenty of ink for this session.

  • Carl

    Wasn’t it reported that even one puff begins damaging genes – even if it was one second hand puff? What are these non-medical professionals trying to do to us?

  • JJ

    Giving smokers their own smoking area is still encouraging them. A room full of smoke for smokers? It’s like have a candy room for diabetics.

  • GregS

    Why not mandate that bars and restaurants identify themselves as either “Smoking” or “Non-smoking”? That way mature adults can make mature adult decisions about whether to patronize the establishment.

  • Tim Ryan

    Does anyone remember when America was free? Why can the government tell me when and where I can put what in my body? No it won’t save money, no it won’t save lives, but that ‘s our choice to make. What will you all say when Obesity becomes such an issue that Washington decides to make the decision for us and cuts out red meat, or forces Coca Cola to lower its sugar level. Will you people care then? Will that be too far? If an establishment wants to be smoking, and the non smokers want to exclude it from their pocket books, where in the constitution does it say they can’t do it?

  • Tim Ryan

    Does anyone remember when America was free? Why can the government tell me when and where I can put what in my body? No it won’t save money, no it won’t save lives, but that ‘s our choice to make. What will you all say when Obesity becomes such an issue that Washington decides to make the decision for us and cuts out red meat, or forces Coca Cola to lower its sugar level. Will you people care then? Will that be too far? If an establishment wants to be smoking, and the non smokers want to exclude it from their pocket books, where in the constitution does it say they can’t do it?

  • Bob Collins

    //where in the constitution does it say they can’t do it?

    It’s an interesting argument. One could, I suppose, say the same thing about food inspections, or fire code, or building for that matter.

    So the question is in matters of either public health or public safety, where does no smoking fit in among those.

    A simple constitutional argument may not work unless one believes the state has no interest at all in regulating such things as food safety and code.

  • Dan Hoxworth

    For anyone with a respiratory problem, the smoking ban has provided access to the amenities that others have long enjoyed.

    Having asthma that is triggered by exposure to cigarette smoke, I was not able to enjoy the Twin Cities music scene until the ban was passed. It has been a joy to be able and see great artists and wonderful live music in the Twin Cities. I had almost forgotten how much I loved to dance.

    Let us not take a step backward as a state. Freedom is being able to go where everyone is safe. People with respiratory problems are not safe where smoking is allowed.

  • Steve Law

    Go backwards? The next step should be smoke-free public places like beaches, golf courses. CA already has butt free golf courses and beaches and they are wonderfully clean.

  • GregS

    “A simple constitutional argument may not work unless one believes the state has no interest at all in regulating such things as food safety and code.- Bob Collin”

    That is a bad analogy, Bob. Tim Ryan’s constitutional argument is spot on.

    Food and fire regulations control expectations of quality. When I bite into a hamburger, I want to be assured that the animal was free of disease and the restaurant abides by standards of safety.

    When I step into a building, I do not want to be trapped in a fire or have the roof collapse.

    The government simply guarantees that minimal expectations are met. This is a very old principle of law and governance that goes back 3,000 years to ancient clay seals that guaranteed quality construction and measures of grain

    What we are talking about here is something entirely new. We are talking about the next logical step for the nanny state; saying that you cannot eat a hamburger because it is not good for you.

  • GregS

    AMPLIFIED MUSIC DESTROYS EARS!! BAN IT NOW!!

    Ban IPods too.

    There is absolutely no doubt that amplified music damages hearing, even music amplified by headphones. Thousands upon thousands of studies have confirmed this.

    All the experts agree and it is scientific consensus that this is true.

    Why are we still allowing amplified music in bars when we know the devastation it causes especially to the staff who have no other choice but to work there?

    AMPLIFIED MUSIC DESTROYS EARS!! BAN IT NOW!!

  • GregS

    “ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers, has stated flatly that the technology does not exist to effectively eliminate the health risks associated with indoor smoking. – Robert Moffitt”

    Huh?

    There is no such thing as “eliminating” the health risks associated with anything. Even drinking tap water carries risk. In Minneapolis the drinking water from the Mississippi. Think about it.

    When we talk about health risk, we NEVER talk about “eliminating” risk, only reducing risk.

    I think Mr. Moffitt knows that too.

    There are a lot of airborne risks that ventilation cannot eliminate. However, adequate ventilation reduces these things to an acceptable level.

    What constitutes an acceptable level?

    That is something for the legislature and highly-paid advocated to determine.

  • Joey

    The difference between smoking and eating a hamburger is that you don’t force everybody in the dining room to eat with you.

    Now you may say, “They don’t have to be around me while it’s happening.” This is akin to that episode of the Simpson’s where Bart says to Lisa, “I’m just going to start swinging my fists while walking toward you, and if any of those fists happen to hit you, that’s your fault.” Clearly not.

    The public has a reasonable expectation of safety, which the ban enforces. This is particularly true for employees in their workplace.

  • GregS

    “The difference between smoking and eating a hamburger is that you don’t force everybody in the dining room to eat with you. – Joey”

    If I walk into a dining room, I expect to smell food being cooked. If I walk into a bar designated as a “smoking” bar, I expect to smell smoke.

    If I am a vegan who does not want to smell hamburger, I stay out of McDonalds. If I am a person sensitive to smoke, I stay out of places where people smoke.

    The issue here is mature and responsible people making mature and responsible choices, not the a Nanny State using the power of law backed by the force of Law Enforcement to tell mature and responsible people that they cannot do what they have every right to do.

  • Lily

    If we are going to let anyone smoke in this state, please allow the mentally ill in our state facilities and community hospitals the opportunity. These folks have serious and persistent disabilites where nicotine can be the one thing that calms them…..

  • archie Anderson

    The right to associate is a basic human right taken away by public funded activists and legislative enablers, The smoking ban lobbied for by activists with millions in public grant funds have never allowed open debate.

    The smoking ban has destroyed the personal liberties of individuals and investments of private business owners that are not nuerotics and non profit activists.

    This poor exercise in social engineering will be over turned by the legislature or referendum. The Destruction of 1,5 billion dollars in the last decade from pull tabs that contribute the charitable funds to the state is now a dribble.

    Want a million Minnesotas smokers to spend their money ? Turn off the the mendacious hostility to free ente prise.

  • Bob collins

    //AMPLIFIED MUSIC DESTROYS EARS!! BAN IT NOW!!

    Can we start with the kid with the big subwoofers?

    I wouldn’t consider banning it — although I think it constitutes disturbing the peace — on what it does to him. I think I would favor it on what does to me.

  • Joey

    “If I walk into a bar designated as a ‘smoking’ bar, I expect to smell smoke. -GregS”

    When I enter certain parts of the city, I expect to be in danger. That doesn’t mean we should let crime roam free there.

    If anything, this sentence justifies the ban: the problem was that deeply entrenched.

    Moreover, since the ban has already been enacted, we expect precisely the opposite when we enter bars in Minnesota.

    I understand this is a frustrating issue for some, because their behavior is being restricted. But that behavior would harm others. Thus, the state can (and should) ban smoking in bars, just as the police can (and should) break up bar fights.

  • GregS

    “When I enter certain parts of the city, I expect to be in danger. – Joey”

    You are comparing illegal activity to legal activity. That is not quite what we are talking about here.

    My analogy with loud bands is more precise. Why not ban amplified music? It is harmful. It is annoying. A ban on it would be a more logical extension of your argument.

    You argue that people have the right to walk into any bar and not be subject to a dangerous or offensive environment. What can be worse than loud music? Maybe people just want to talk or think. When the music is loud, they are denied the right to do that.

    We could keep walking that road to a Puritan Utopia where everything every source of entertainment but prayer or reading Mao’s Little Red Book is banned.

    Or maybe, just maybe, people who don’t want to breathe smoke or be subject to dangerously loud music can choose venues where they are comfortable,

    Or maybe, just maybe, people should respect the rights of others to choose the environments where they are free to “pursue happiness”

  • Bob Moffitt

    For the record, I LIKE hamburgers and amplified music. Throw in some cold beer and you have a good evening out, without the smoke.

    Also for the record, this matter has already been debated and decided. It’s the law, it’s effective and it’s very popular.

    Let’s move on, shall we?

  • kennedy

    Minnesota is facing a $3 billion budget shortfall. Is changing this legislation going to significantly decrease spending or increase income?

    Legislators, please get to work on budget issues instead of political hot buttons.

  • TJSwift

    Oh, cripes. There goes the plan to regulate our toothpaste, probably.

    Next thing you know, people will be mowing lawns without a helmet!

  • TJSwift

    ALAMN is probably hoping that misleading and false talking points have a long shelf life…time to drag them out for another “spin”.

  • TJSwift

    GregS: “There is no such thing as “eliminating” the health risks associated with anything. Even drinking tap water carries risk. In Minneapolis the drinking water from the Mississippi. Think about it.”

    “When we talk about health risk, we NEVER talk about “eliminating” risk, only reducing risk.”

    “I think Mr. Moffitt knows that too.”

    Warmed over spin isn’t looking too promising, Bob.

  • Bob Collins

    WARNING

    ** Discuss the issues, not the people posting. We’ve been over this before. Go to the Strib or YouTube comments if that doesn’t suit you. ****

  • Craig Westover

    @Bob Collins

    There are three criteria that must be met before an issue becomes a “public health & safety” issue.

    1) A person is exposed to a risk to which he does not consent.

    2) The risk can affect anyone or everyone.

    3) A reasonable person cannot avoid the risk on his own.

    If you take food inspection, it clearly meets those criteria. No one agrees to be exposed to bad food; anyone can be affected; and a reasonable person can’t look at a hamburger and determine it’s quality. Gov’t intervention is justified.

    Take smoking in a public building like a court house. If I am called for jury duty or have to renew my driver’s license, I have to go to a public building. If smoking were allowed in that building, I would not consent to the exposure. Anyone can be required to enter a public building. A reasonable person cannot refuse, say jury duty, because there is secondhand smoke in the building. Again, Gov’t intervention is legitimate.

    But in a private bar or restaurant, a simple sign on the door that says smoking permitted is the “least restrictive” means of preventing exposure to secondhand smoke. People going to smoking bars only do so with their own consent. The only people affected are those who consent to enter the bar. A reasonable person can determine there be smoking here and not enter or choose to work at the bar. Gov’t has no legitimate role to play.

    BTW here’s a little parody I wrote some years ago in deference to American Lung Association Bob “The Moffit”

    http://craigwestover.blogspot.com/2005/12/reference-moffitt-posted-at-fraters.html

  • Bob Moffitt

    Wow, Archie, Swiftee and Fishsticks. I hit the trifecta! As a local billboard once asked, “Miss me yet?”

    Guys, we have had this talk before. Our state did the right thing three years ago. We are not going back.

    Since then, Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota have all gone smokefree. North Dakota and Indiana are next in line. This is what people want, and what hospitality workers deserve.

  • jtb

    My question is, what if all restaurants and bars would allow smoking? Then you are taking away the power of choice of going to a restaurant/bar. By taking smoking out of restaurants/bars, it is not discriminating; you just cannot do it. (You can say this is a slippery slope argument, but 20 years ago there was smoking in McDonalds. Plus some of the arguments above are slippery sloped.)

    Also, was there this big backlash against banning smoking on airlines? Airlines are ‘private establishments’. One can say, go fly on a non-smoking flight or drive. It is supposedly the person’s choice.

  • Lorri Barnett

    @jtb, I whole-heartedly disagree.

    “My question is, what if all restaurants and bars would allow smoking? Then you are taking away the power of choice of going to a restaurant/bar. By taking smoking out of restaurants/bars, it is not discriminating; you just cannot do it. ”

    If the market demands a smoke-free restaurants and bars, the market will provide them.

    Not allowing private business owners to choose to be smoke-free or not is a violation of their property rights.

    If you don’t like that a restaurant or bar allows smoking, why not talk to the owner and ask them to change their policies rather than using the government to enforce your personal agenda?

  • Archie Anderson

    Ya but Mr. Moffitt

    We in the trifecta do not get $40,000 of public funds from the legislature and commissioner of public health in public funds to influence the 2004 Freedom to breathe act (as posted on the state CFEB) Senator Scott dibble st 2381 and Latz’s hf 2411 influenced to carry the legislation.

    The trifecta does not even get to use the residuals from the sales of ethanol like the ALAMN does.

    The general Public Never had a voice in this mendacious and public funds purchase.

    Even the cost to minnesota is inflated from 213 million to three billion by the anti activists

    The 213 million is a “CERTIFIED accounting mandated by state statute 16A,725.

    smokers never had a chance, end neither did private business.

  • Julie Peters RN

    NO, NO, NO!

    I can’t believe we are even thinking abt going back to allowing smoking in restaurants and bars!!! Secondhand smoke is SO dangerous to all of us. It has been shown to constrict the coronary arteries and increase the stickiness of our blood flowing thru our arteries in nonsmokers exposed to 2nd hand smoke. 2ndhand smoke contains 1000’s of toxins that I would prefer to not breathe in!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed going out to restaurants and venues without the acrid smell of smoke permeating by lungs, clothing and body. I have been to places in ND and was appalled to find that they were not smoke-free. I plan not to return.

    Please, lets not go backwards! Keep our public places smoke FREE!

  • jtb

    Lorri,

    I understand your argument about property rights. I just do not agree with that argument. What if the property owner next to your house wants to have chickens and cows (assuming you live in a city or suburb)? Your argument says they can have them because you or the governing body cannot impose on your neighbor’s property rights.

    Still one has not said anything about my questioning of no smoking on airlines, which are a private entity.

    Thanks for your thoughts Lorri.

  • The anti-smokers commit flagrant scientific fraud by ignoring more than 50 studies which show that human papillomaviruses cause at least 1/4 of non-small cell lung cancers. Smokers and passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus for socioeconomic reasons. And the anti-smokers’ studies are all based on lifestyle questionnaires, so they’re cynically DESIGNED to blame tobacco for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV. And they commit the same type of fraud with every disease they blame on tobacco.

    http://www.smokershistory.com/hpvlungc.htm

    http://www.smokershistory.com/etsheart.html

    For the government to commit fraud to deprive us of our liberties is automatically a violation of our Constitutional rights to the equal protection of the laws, just as much as if it purposely threw innocent people in prison. And for the government to spread lies about phony smoking dangers is terrorism, no different from calling in phony bomb threats.

  • Jen

    I’m not a smoker, but I do believe wholly in the freedom of choice and personal responsibility. The smoking ban removed both of those rights/obligations.

    I will admit that I have enjoyed not smelling like smoke after coming home from the bar, or arguing with my fiancée about whether we sit in the smoking section. He has also stated to me that the ban made it easier for him to stay quit for two years. All good things to come out of it. But what’s next?

    I fear that these sort of decisions made on behalf of the public by the government only slowly erode away what should be our sense of personal responsibility to care for our selves as a population. For those that also dislike government interference of gun ownership, alcohol consumption, and other potentially dangerous activities it makes me wonder where we draw the line between a nanny state and our freedoms.

    As a compromise I see absolutely nothing wrong with spaces being separated for smokers and non-smokers. A person willing to subject them-self to a perfectly legal habit should be within their right to do so wherever the option is available to them. If a business owner wants to create a space for this why not? People who say that those who work in these atmospheres should not have to deal with the smoke, then they should choose a different location for work. Why would you apply to work somewhere that you don’t believe you could tolerate? A person shouldn’t apply to work in a coal mine if they fear they might contract black lung.

    As far as the cost to the government/society through increased medical coverage goes I say we should let that fall to personal responsibility as well. If you smoke and contract lung cancer or smoking related diseases we shouldn’t have to pay for your care. You deliberately participated in an activity that is well known to cause these issues and by neglecting your health to smoke thereby knowingly increasing your potential need for health care at a cost to us all. If you have private insurance good for you, if not, there is a reason they call them cancer sticks.

    Though I’ve seen personal rewards from this bill, I fear more for my rights and control of personal responsibilities because of it, they are more dear to me than unscented clothing.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Dear me. I just had a peak at “CarolT’s” website link.

  • Decker

    “I do believe wholly in the freedom of choice and personal responsibility. The smoking ban removed both of those rights/obligations.”

    Yes. Yes it did. And that it is truly a loss. But it’s only a beginning. Wait until the food we eat — nourishment — becomes the next target of well-funded groups with an agenda.

  • Archie Anderson

    Amazingly Ethanol subsudies, emission testing stations and the battle cry thAt our air is poisoned. and smoking bans have the same Political DNA.

    A national EPA study that does not exist and never has incited billions in ethanol subsudies to save the planet and people from the alleged danger.

    Look at the same twisticticks and totally false studies and rumors created about tobacco brought the state and activist non profits Like the ALAMN riches beyond believ that today is still being spent on the False flag battle cry of Poison air, The only non benifactors have been taxpayers and smokers.

  • Dianne Ploetz

    I LOVE the smoke free air in Minnesota’s bars and restaurants. We go out more since FTB went into place, our friends who are smokers love the smoke free air as well.

  • Archie Anderson

    Bob M

    Now You can see from Carol T’s documents how very easy it is for Unprincipled scientists and researchers to totally “WONK” the Unarmed mediA to death? Then the media simply act’s as stenographers instead of reporters asking for citations from the statements being made by alleged legitimate scientists, Carol T did not just get off the turnip truck, Many questions need honest answers from peer reviewed and legitimate sciencetists. The whole of the tobacco evidence manufactured for todays smoking bans is a carnard and a nasty trick played on all citizens.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Turnip truck? Archie, you say the darndest things sometimes.

    Since I have the floor, I should mention how Minnesota fared in the most recent ALA “State of Tobacco Control” report:

    Smokefree air: A

    Spending: F

    Cessation programs: D

    Taxes: C

  • Archie Anderson

    Bob

    I especially like the “F” for spending. After 6,3 million of ASSIST federal cancer research grant funds, One Billion in state funds from the legislature in “designer grants” to non profits, 6.4 Billion in tobacco litigation funds making smokers 100% ownerous.

    I think the public funded anti smoking regime has spent their last dime of public funds, The assist grant that hired sub contrators for schools created 39% of the states heaviest smokers in ages 18-24 the same children that were taught anti tobacco indoctrination in the early 90’s according to Jan malcoms report from MDH.

    Did you notice that the air in factorys has not changed since the factories opened, Not much clean air there Bob.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Not true, Archie. Since 1975, indoor smoking has not been allowed in Minnesota factories.

    I agree it is a shame the the bulk of the tobacco settlement is being spent on things other than cessation and prevention programs. That’s a big reason why we got an “F.” Our grades used to be much better.

  • Archie Anderson

    Bob

    MPAAT aka Clearway Minnesota says

    “we have got 17,000 people to not smoke

    Divide that into 202 million dollars, that comes to nearly $12,000.00 per treatment.

    Money is not the problem, One million Minnesotans choose to smoke legal tobacco with out being marginalized for the act by self appointed and public funded social engineers, GO away Bob, the party is over and the smoking lamp is still “Lit”.

    Arch

  • BRIAN

    really? all you people complaining about smoking in bars and how it effects ur health. please. ur at a bar. is consuming alcohol good for ur health? if u dont like it dont go to a bar that allows smoking then. this is suppose to be a free country.

  • Jumpingin

    I agree with you Brian! What is wrong with people I do ot smoke and as adult I can decide for myself if I wish to go to those places that smoke or not. I quess its part of growing up.

  • billy

    Those that want to fight that smoking is a rights issue are more than likely addicted to cigarettes.

    Smoking is not a protected right…

    and smokers are not a protected class.

    You can still smoke no one is telling you that you can’t, the freedom to breathe act just states where you can’t smoke. Go to your car or in your home to smoke. DOn’t contaminate those people that choose not to smoke with your toxins. There is a lot of people that are allerigic to smoke and have severe asthma. You are putting their lives as risk and why?

    If you are a smoker, the tobacco industry hooked you. The tobacco industry knows that they kill more than 20,000 people a year with their deadly products and they aren’t giving up. They have come out with a variety of new products to hook the younger populations the sticks, orbs, strips… the new snus “spit free”… They will not stop. They know that policies are being placed to ban their products but they will not give up. Why would we step back now?? Absolutely ridiculous.

  • Archie Anderson

    Those Quotes right out of the Minnesota plan for non smoking and health 1984

    a smoker must be desocialized and made to stand alone, Smoking must be related to sex and violence. He must be taxed until he can not afford tobacco

    Our legal people at the MDH have studied the law, Because a smokers is not a member of the “Protected class” an employer need not hire them.

    Sorry komrade, Minnesota became the 29th state to legislate protection of a smoker while at work or home,

    Signed by Gov Carlson

    Did you copy that dictatorial and discriminating madness from MDH’s Kathleen Hardy’s time as Commissar at the anti smoking MHD ?

    (*** Personal attack removed *** )

  • Bob Moffitt

    An update. In the final week of the regular session, this legislation is all but dead.

    As I said in January: unlikely.