Legislators in MN are considering a new provision that would allow bars to build separate “smoke shacks” where smokers can congregate. Employees wouldn’t be allowed to serve drinks in the shacks. Non-smoking customers wouldn’t have to go into them. And given the expense of building a separate structure, its doubtful that all that many bars would choose to build them. Yet even this is not enough to satisfy ban proponents:
Those who opposed a statewide smoking ban can’t seem to take no for an answer when it comes to weakening the ban.
This year, they’re trying again. They want to allow bar owners to build so-called “smoke shacks” outside of bars and restaurants that would allow smokers to presumably stay warm while they light up. Several Democrats and Republicans, including Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, presented the smoking shack amendment for amending onto a budget balancing bill shortly before midnight on April 3…
Proponents of the amendment say they want to provide relief to bar owners who’ve been hurt by the smoking ban. But many of those owners already have created patios and other smoking-permitted places for their businesses. Those proponents also should consider the fiscal implications of this exception to the smoking ban. Do the profits of some bar owners outweigh the savings in smoking-related health-care costs to taxpayers?
Somehow I don’t see outdoor patios as terribly appealing places to smoke in the Minnesota winter. The opposition to this extremely reasonable bill nicely illustrates just how much the anti-smoking movement is motivated by the paternalist desire to control others rather than by actual concern for the health of service workers and customers.