St. Paul passes smoking ban

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 12, 2006 - 6:53 AM

The City Council approved a no-smoking rule for all bars and restaurants, causing supporters to cheer and opponents to fear the economic worst.

Nearly two years after inspiring a wave of smoking bans across the metro area, St. Paul City Council Member Dave Thune finally attended his own victory party.

The City Council voted 4-3 on Wednesday to outlaw smoking in St. Paul bars and restaurants, a Thune-sponsored measure the council had approved twice before only to have the plans vetoed by former Mayor Randy Kelly.

Mayor Chris Coleman signed the ordinance on Wednesday. It goes into effect March 31.

"Not a bad day," said Thune, as about 30 supporters gave him a standing ovation at a celebration at Dixie's on Grand after the vote.

Coming in the wake of a decision by Hennepin County to soften its ban and allow smoking in bars, advocates of all-out bans said St. Paul's decision bolsters their case.

"From a perception of state legislators, it's going to show that the ... big momentum is back in our court," said Bob Moffitt, spokesman for the American Lung Association of Minnesota.

Moffitt added, "And the other cities and counties that are ready to announce [bans] will just build on St. Paul's decision."

Though the ban's passage was expected, lingering resentments remain.

"I don't see this as being a positive thing for St. Paul. I'm sick to my stomach," said bar owner Mike Costello, a harsh critic of the ban. Costello came to City Hall for the vote along with a handful of other bar owners. "I don't know what the city is going to do with all these empty buildings."

As in the previous two attempts, Members Dan Bostrom, Pat Harris and Debbie Montgomery voted against the ban. Supporting Thune were Council President Kathy Lantry and Members Jay Benanav and Lee Helgen. The ban will take effect March 31.

Thune's aide Donna Swanson presented him with 20 roses -- one for each month since he first proposed the ban -- and an engraved ashtray that read, "Where there's smoke there's Thune." In a sign of the times, Swanson said she searched to no avail for an ashtray at Marshall Field's, J.C. Penney and Herberger's. She finally found one at Stogies on Grand.

Though thrilled with the gift, Thune, a pack-a-day smoker, said he would resist using it.

"Hopefully, with your support, everyone, I'm still going to quit."

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