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News Summary

Smoke break: Senate committee says local bans won’t be allowed

Publication Date: 2007-02-21
  • Author:Brian Voerding
  • Publication:Winona Daily News

The Minnesota Senate has a strong message for Winona County or any municipality considering passing its own smoking ban.

Forget about it.

At least for now, anyway.

The Senate’s Business, Industry and Jobs Committee approved a revised smoking ban Monday that has new exemptions for bars with ventilation systems and a provision that would prevent any municipality from enacting a stricter ban.

While the revisions appeared to gut the initial proposal, which called for a statewide smoking ban with no exceptions, the changes aren’t permanent.

Lawmakers will likely tinker with the bill, labeled the Freedom to Breathe Act, as it moves through several other Senate committees. The initial proposal still appears to have broad support.

Under the latest changes, bars would have until June 2009 to either go smoke-free or install ventilation systems. Bars that make a vast majority of revenue from alcohol sales would have until 2014 to install the systems.

On the House side, the bill is still in the Commerce and Labor Committee.