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Statewide Smoking Ban Burns Bar Owners - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Statewide Smoking Ban Burns Bar Owners

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  Some North Dakota bar owners are just beginning to realize the effect of a statewide smoking ban in public buildings, approved by voters this month and they're not happy.

  When the City of Grand Forks passed its smoking ban in 2010, many bar owners across the City, like Jeanie Vigen, built attached smoking shelters for their customers who smoked.

Jeanie Vigen, Johnny's Lounge: "How can the City and State tell you how to run it? I don't feel that's right."

  The Grand Forks ordinance said smoking shelters could only be 50-percent enclosed.  But now, the new, State ordinance says  the shelters can only be 33-percent enclosed. So part of the walls will need to be taken down at Johnny's smoking shelter.

  Plus, the new state ordinance says smokers must be 20 feet from the door, not 15 feet like the City ordinance. That could also cause some problems at Johnny's Lounge.

Kevin Dean, City of Grand Forks: "The State law now, which supersedes City law is more restrictive than what we had for City law before. We have to stay in line with that State law. So, unfortunately that means some changes for some business owners."

Jeanie Vigen:  "I don't feel that's right. You're the one that bought it, you're the one paying the taxes, you're the one that's paying the license and then the City and State turn around and tell you how to run it? I don't see them signing our checks."

  Vigen says she's already spent nearly 10-thousand dollars building her heated smoking shelter, and there's no way for her to recoup the money that will be spent making changes.

  However, she does say that overall, she's had more business since the smoking ban went into effect.

  The new, North Dakota statewide ban of smoking in public buildings goes into effect December sixth.

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