Local exemptions could extinguish support for statewide smoking ban
Publication Date: 4/25/2007
- Author:Mark Brunswick
- Publication:Star Tribune
Ban advocates say the House version nearing a final vote is "a prescription for community-by-community chaos."
On the eve of a House vote on a bill that would prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants statewide, advocates for the smoking ban Wednesday decried what they saw as a massive loophole in the House version that they say could force them to withdraw support.
The House version of the smoking ban permits bars and restaurants with liquor licenses to apply to local governments for exemptions. It would also permit the construction of smoking rooms, which ban supporters say would still leave workers vulnerable to the health impact of secondhand smoke.
"This change endangers employees and citizens, and is a prescription for community-by-community chaos," said Hutchinson Mayor Steve Cook. After almost five years of debate, the city of Hutchinson passed a comprehensive smoking ban that takes effect June 1. "This loophole will set off a regulatory free-for-all."