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Smoking ban takes effect Dec. 6

North Dakota voters on Nov. 6 decided 66 percent to 34 percent to ban smoking in all public places and workplaces, including bars, through Measure 4. This ban takes effect 30 days after the election, meaning that by Dec. 6 all bars must be smoke free.

Bars across the state, except those in cities which previously had a ban, are preparing themselves and their customers for the change.

The Rock bar in downtown Dickinson is using the ban as an opportunity to spruce the place up a bit, owner Pat Fisher said.

"We're going to be shut down for a couple days," he said. "We're going to put all new ceiling tiles in, we're going to paint, clean all our venting systems and stuff, stuff like that."

The Cannonball Saloon in Regent is a bit worried about losing a few customers once the ban takes effect, co-owner Karen Kouba said.

"I did have one lady in here that said just when it's no smoking she's not coming back in here," she said.

Kouba hasn't had anyone express their interest in patronizing her establishment more once the ban takes effect.

Liquid Assets in Dickinson has always been smoke free and manager Matty Lyons thinks the business will see a slight dip right after the ban takes effect and non-smokers can enjoy a smoke-free atmosphere anywhere, but expects business will level out.

"I think that people that come here will go to other places that are closer to their home" because every bar will be non-smoking come Dec. 6, he said. "I think it will affect us a little bit, but not as much as what some other people would think."

The fact that it's a statewide ban helps, knowing that customers won't be able to go over to the next town to smoke in a bar, both Kouba and Fisher said.

Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota all have statewide smoking bans.

Lyons grew up in southern California and turned 21 around the time a smoking ban went into effect there. It created more business for the bars there.

Kouba hasn't had a chance to educate her staff and customers about the new regulations.

"We've been so busy with hunting season that I just haven't figured it all out yet," she said.

Fisher plans to have a meeting laying down the procedure should a patron light up a cigarette.

"I saw it coming, I knew it was going to come, but I just didn't know it was going to be this soon," he said.

Part of the ban prohibits smokers from standing closer than 20 feet from the entrance of a public building.

"Once they're outside the building, it really has nothing to do with us," Fisher said.

Liquid Assets has an outdoor area that allows smokers to have a cigarette without officially leaving the bar (or their drink), but Lyons doesn't see that helping them with the smoking crowd later on.

"The only thing I don't agree with is the (ban including) electronic cigarettes," he said. "It's not harmful, I don't understand why that's part of the law."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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