The Smoker aquariums...

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by fuzzykitten99, Jun 10, 2004.

  1. fuzzykitten99
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    fuzzykitten99 Senior Member

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    I would laugh my ass off if this happened in the bars and restaurants here. There is one restaurant near my house that already does this, but it is SO funny. This whole thing reminds me of a bit that my favorite comedian, Bill Engvall does about smokers, and how they are putting these rooms in at the airport, and he calls them the Smoker Aquariums-like a fishtank full of smokers, and makes little jokes about it.

    the story:


    Smoking limits gain ground
    Jackie Crosby, Mary Lynn Smith and Melissa Lee, Star Tribune
    June 10, 2004 BAN0610

    A compromise that would limit tobacco to airtight "smoking rooms" in St. Paul bars and restaurants appeared to win majority support from the City Council Wednesday.

    And St. Paul may not be alone for long.

    A Minneapolis proposal to make all public places smoke-free moved forward Wednesday, and officials in Ramsey and Hennepin counties said they, too, are exploring restrictions.

    The smoking rooms proposed for St. Paul's bars and restaurants would have to be physically separated with a solid wall and door, and would be tightly sealed and ventilated. Customers could eat or drink in the rooms, but employees would not take orders or serve food and liquor in the smoking rooms.

    The compromise was introduced by Council Member Kathy Lantry, who had been a key undecided vote on the proposed smoking ban that would have prohibited smoking in all city bars and restaurants.

    The new measure gained the support of Debbie Montgomery. That apparently gives the measure five votes, enough to override a possible veto from Mayor Randy Kelly. The ordinance is scheduled to come up for a vote on Wednesday.

    "It does everything we wanted to do," said Council Member Dave Thune, who introduced the original ban plan. "It will protect employees and patrons, and it gives businesses a way to keep their customers. And now smokers won't have to go stand outside on the sidewalk."

    Antismoking activists from the health community also endorsed the compromise restrictions.

    But some business owners complained that their bars were too small to create a separate room, particularly one that wouldn't allow them to sell anything. They also said the idea flies in the face of a main reason people go to a bar or restaurant in the first place -- the camaraderie.

    "The thing that makes a neighborhood bar real -- the fabric of our little societies of these neighborhoods -- is that people talk, they interact," said Charles Senkler, an owner of Fabulous Fern's Bar and Grill and a leading opponent of the ban. "Smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, having a burger are all part of that."

    Ramsey County considers ban

    With smoking restrictions apparently assured in St. Paul, Ramsey County officials said Wednesday they will consider spreading the ban countywide.

    "It's a great public health issue," said County Commissioner Rafael Ortega. "I don't believe there should be smoking in restaurants."

    But it's also an economic health issue, he said.

    Critics of the St. Paul ban have contended that businesses will lose customers to surrounding areas where smoking is permitted. But a countywide ban could help keep that from happening. "I would like to level the playing field," said Ortega, who represents St. Paul's West Side.

    "I want to protect people's health, but I want to make sure we don't hurt economically," he said.

    Thune is thrilled that the county may get on board the anti-smoking bandwagon, saying, "It definitely will level the playing field. And it's the right thing to do."

    Ortega said Public Health officials are gathering information about smoking bans and analyzing whether the county's public health authority would cover all restaurants and bars in the county. He plans to talk to other commissioners next week about his proposal. "I don't know if the votes are there," Ortega said.

    He also said he expects that Public Health officials will be ready to present information to the County Board this month. Commissioners could take up the proposal as early as July.

    Similar questions are being asked in Hennepin County, where Board Chairman Randy Johnson said he has had preliminary discussions concerning what authority the state's most populous county has to ban smoking in either workplaces or public accommodations. He cautioned, however,

    that the county was not actively pursuing the issue.

    He also said "it's clear it'd be better" to adopt a statewide approach to a smoking ban instead of having individual jurisdictions tackling the topic.

    Bloomington officials also will consider a broad smoking ban this month.

    In Minneapolis, the City Council's Public Safety Committee rejected an attempt by Council President Paul Ostrow to set up a task force to study the issue. Without recommendation, the committee forwarded a proposal to ban smoking in all public places -- including bars, restaurants and workplaces -- to the full council. The ordinance is scheduled for a vote on June 18.

    Council Member Scott Benson, who doesn't serve on the Public Safety Committee but could provide the crucial seventh vote for passage by the council, said Wednesday he prefers a more limited ordinance. He has been concerned that the Minneapolis proposal could bar smoking in hotel rooms and home-based businesses.

    Ostrow's task-force proposal failed on a 3 to 3 tie. Council Members Barbara Johnson and Sandy Colvin Roy voted for the study; Council Members Paul Zerby, Dan Niziolek and Don Samuels all are sponsors of the ban and voted against Ostrow.

    "Change is hard, yes. But the only way to get change done is to go ahead and put the ordinance in place," Zerby said.

    Staff writer Mike Kaszuba contributed to this report. The writers are at jcrosby@startribune.com, mlsmith@startribune.com and

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