Many bar owners still oppose statewide smoking ban

Indoor smoking
Officials with the state Health Department say the ban protects both customers and employers in bars and restaurants from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Photo by Chris Furlong/Getty Images

A group of bar owners opposed to the statewide smoking ban is calling on the Legislature to revisit the law this session.

To get around the ban, some bar owners have held "theatrical performances" where they called customers actors and cigarettes props.

The Health Department has issued a number of citations to bars found to be in violation of the ban for holding theatre nights.

Attorney Mark Benjamin represented bar owners who tried using the theatrical performance loophole.

He says the smoking ban has hurt Minnesota's small business community at a time when the state's economy is already suffering.

"A lot of revenue was lost from a lot of bars because the smokers were no longer coming. We were told, of course, when the smoking ban was enacted that a lot of non-smokers would be coming through the doors, but that just didn't pan out for a lot of establishments," Benjamin said.

Health Department officials say the ban protects the health of both customers and employees in bars and restaurants.

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