We've been writing about the smoking ban in some form or another for more than three years. It's true. I can look back to a Spring 2004 issue of Meetings, and right there in the Openers section we made first mention of the growing trend. (Duluth and Rochester were the trendsetters back then.) And now, as of Oct. 1, smoking isn't allowed in bars, restaurants and workplaces throughout Minnesota. And we're not alone. Approximately 20 states have similar ordinances as well.
We know the arguments for both sides. When Minneapolis, Bloomington and Hennepin County decided to go smoke free, bar and restaurant owners argued that their patrons could just cross city or county lines to light up. So, a statewide ban seemed like the next best step. However now, for many, Wisconsin ain't that far away.
So, what I'm wondering: Is this old news? No big deal? Or will the smoking ban continue to affect the hospitality industry? For how long?
--Amanda Fretheim Gates
Meetings: Minnesota's Hospitality Journal