Duluth might push for statewide smoking ban
DULUTH -- A Duluth City Council member wants the Legislature to make state law match his city's tougher smoke-free law and ban smoking in restaurants statewide.
Since last year, Duluth has prohibited smoking in restaurants and nearly all businesses except about a dozen bars that don't serve food.
Council member Jim Stauber said he planned to introduce a resolution Thursday that would ask Duluth's legislative delegation to try to amend the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act to match Duluth's law. The council could take a final vote Monday.
Stauber, who had opposed Duluth's restrictions, said he is pushing for the change so restaurants in nearby communities, such as Hermantown and Proctor, won't have a competitive advantage in attracting smoking customers.
Local lawmakers weren't sure the Legislature would embrace the idea.
"I think it's a good idea, but I don't think it would pass," said Rep. Mike Jaros. Stauber "would probably be better off starting with the county."
Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon said she too would support the change but didn't know whether Minnesota is quite ready to go smoke-free.
The Clean Indoor Air Act was enacted in 1975 to restrict smoking in offices. The rules were toughened in 2002 to include new requirements for offices, factories, warehouses and similar workplaces.
Cities are allowed to adopt tougher regulations, and some have, but several other cities around Minnesota have declined to approve smoking bans.
"We are stuck with bad legislation that's unfair to the marketplace," Stauber said. "Other cities said they were waiting for the state, so let's start putting some pressure on the state."