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Published February 27, 2010, 05:55 PM

Smoking Ban May Leave Two Businesses Exempt

If the proposed Grand Forks Smoking ban goes into effect, the ban will eliminate smoking in all city workplaces, including bars. But what does that mean for business that rely on tobacco products?

If the proposed Grand Forks Smoking ban goes into effect, the ban will eliminate smoking in all city workplaces, including bars. But what does that mean for business that rely on tobacco products?

Since Grand Forks city leaders started drafting a smoking ban, business owners have been biting their nails to find out if their customers can still light up.

Andy Brunette/Dreas Hookah Lounge Owner: "When I first heard about it I was really nervous because I just opened this place and open just three months and if the ban would have went through and affected me it literally would have put me out of business."

Under the proposed smoking law, the only two businesses that are going to be exempt form the ban are the Dreas Hookah lounge and the Grand Forks Cigar lounge. If the smoking ban is adopted, not only will these two businesses be the only ones allowed to permit smoking, future businesses also can't let anyone light up.

Tom Passa/Grand Forks Cigar Lounge Owner: "I don't believe a monopoly of any sort is fair and if it is a government created monopoly and this is what they are they wouldn't be allowing new businesses to come in at that point they are being anti-business."

Both owners say they don't expect their business to pick up too rapidly.

Andy Brunette/Dreas Hookah Lounge Owner: The ban is really affecting cigarette smokers, hookah smokers are a different type of people, so people may come in here a little more often if they they want to come smoke a hookah instead, since they cant smoke inside the bars they might just come in here and light up a hookah and sit in here for an hour and keep going to the next bar.

Tom Passa/Grand Forks Cigar Lounge Owner: If I'm selling the product they want to smoke chances are business will increase, but its contingent on them wanting the product I'm selling, so it might go up it might go down. Chances are it's going to stay the same.

If the two lounges become the only businesses permitted to allow smoking, business owners say they will not allow cigarette smoking in either lounge. The city council will discuss the smoking ban at the next committee of the whole meeting on March eighth.

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