Here in Minnesota, a statewide ban on almost all indoor smoking went into effect on Monday, Oct. 1, 2007. Bars and restaurants where smokers once puffed away, filling their stomachs with fried food and their lungs with nicotine, now have to take their nasty-ass habit outside.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that…
The ban promises to change the way many Minnesotans socialize and how local businesses operate, especially in border towns, where nonsmoking and smoking bars may soon be almost close enough for secondhand smoke to drift from one to the other.
Some fear that patrons who don’t cross state lines might jump ship to casinos on Indian reservations, where smoking will be allowed, while others may simply drink and smoke in their own homes.
Bracing for the ban, bar owners have been making last-minute trips to home improvement stores to pick up extra propane heaters. Outdoor areas, where smoking is permitted, have been added in many places.
“They’re doing patios, outdoor facilities to try and make their customers have a spot to have a cigarette so they don’t have to get in a car and leave,” said Kenn Rockler, of the Minnesota Tavern League.
I love the line that states, “some may simply smoke at home.” Duhhhhhh. And thank God the restaurant and bar owners are making accommodations for those with a smoking habit. I just love the site of shivering puffers as they stand outside on a January night next to a propane patio heater … smoking a heater. Many bar owners feel they would otherwise go out of business if they don’t offer options – especially with all the lure of TV trays and smokeless ashtrays sitting close to the Lazy Boy.
The ban is the result of Minnesota’s Freedom to Breathe Act (gasp – I’ve been holding my breath since 1999, when I first moved to the state). Finally! As a citizen of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I’m protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Of course, if I’m a bar owner just over state lines in Iowa, Wisconsin or either Dakota Territory, I’m thinking my ship has just arrived. Bar revenues will likely increase by 1 percent as smokers in Minnesota hop in the car or hitch to those states still living in the cigarette liberation age of 2006 – long before freedom to breathe acts were passed.
So progressive we are here in the North Country!