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Published May 31, 2012, 07:52 PM

Survey: GF Smoking Ban More Popular Now Than When Enacted

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A UND survey finds that the public smoking ban in Grand Forks is more popular today than when it was enacted two years ago.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A UND survey finds that the public smoking ban in Grand Forks is more popular today than when it was enacted two years ago.

The ordinance is billed as a health issue, but Grand Forks residents say that's not the only reason it's popular.

The director of the Social Science Research Institute at UND says it's rare anything has as much approval as the smoking ban.

"I'm surprised you're interviewing me. I thought the topic was long gone and dead," Grand Forks resident and artist Adam Kemp said.

The topic is far from controversial. 84 percent of those surveyed favor the smoking ordinance. Only 57 percent of people approved banning smoking in bars just two years ago.

"And every time we do a study, we find that there's more consensus and more support for comprehensive smoking ordinance to reduce smoking in public places," Cordell Fontaine, Director of the Social Science Research Institute, said.

The survey also revealed an increased awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke.

"But even the smokers, the people that smoked, agree about the hazards of second hand smoke," Fontaine said.

"I'm OK with it. Once in a while I think I still smoke a cigar but I don't necessarily need to do that anywhere," Kemp said.

But the health risk isn't why Grand Forks residents think the ban is so popular.

"It wasn't maybe, not necessarily a health concern, more of an environmental concern, just the smell," Urban Stampede coffee shop owner Kelly Thompson said.

Thompson says he got rid of smoking in his coffee shop around 18 years ago.

"We actually did have a smoking section for, I would say, about a year, and then there was a lot of resistance to that and so we got rid of it," Thompson said.

He says any business with indoor smoking would suffer on the bottom line, which is likely to keep the ban popular with nearly everyone in town.

"I think there would be a great loss of business if establishments such as ours included smoking," Thompson said.

UND will find out exactly how the ban affects business with an economic study due to be released this fall.

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