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New smoking ban

  • September 30, 2007 - 10:21 PM

MINNESOTA'S NEW STATEWIDE SMOKING BAN

The Minnesota ban took effect at 12:01 a.m. today. In the United States, 22 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have passed smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. Some states have yet to enact their bans.

What's covered: The Minnesota law applies to bars, restaurants, private clubs such as VFWs and American Legion halls, bowling alleys, country club lounges, lobbies of hotels and motels, public transportation, taxis, home offices where employees work or customers visit, home day cares when children are present, and smaller commercial vehicles carrying more than one person.

Outdoor options? State law does not address smoking outdoors, but some local ordinances may prohibit smoking near entrances. The law does not prohibit cities and counties from enacting stricter prohibitions. Bars and restaurants can install outdoor patios with service for smokers, if local ordinances do not prohibit it.

Penalties: Punishment for violations of the smoking ban is a petty misdemeanor with fines up to $300. The owner of a bar or restaurant could face a similar fine for violations, as well as penalties up to $10,000 from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Overseeing the rules: Proprietors are required to post "No Smoking" signs at or near all public entrances. They must ask people who smoke in prohibited areas to refrain from smoking or require them to leave the facility if they refuse.

Casinos exempt: The law does not apply to Indian casinos or Indian lands.

Other exemptions: They include: scientific studies, sleeping rooms of hotels and motels, tobacco shops, small family farms, traditional Native American ceremonies, and theater productions. Smoking would also be permitted at the Disabled Veterans Rest Camp in Washington County, and locked psychiatric wards.

MARK BRUNSWICK

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