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Published September 23, 2013, 07:52 PM

More restrictions for smokers at Ralph Engelstad Arena

Those who want to take a smoke break during events at Grand Forks’ Ralph Engelstad Arena will be free to leave but they won’t be allowed back in starting Oct. 6, the night of the first UND men’s hockey game, according to arena spokesman Chris Semrau.

By: Jennifer Johnson, Grand Forks Herald

Those who want to take a smoke break during events at Grand Forks’ Ralph Engelstad Arena will be free to leave but they won’t be allowed back in starting Oct. 6, the night of the first UND men’s hockey game, according to arena spokesman Chris Semrau.

This will affect all events at the arena itself and the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

The arena’s new policy would be consistent with UND’s tobacco policy, and is another step to ensure a healthier workplace for employees on event nights, Semrau said on Monday.

UND became a tobacco-free campus in 2007, but the Ralph was among the places exempted. The arena was able to offer guests an outdoor smoking zone.

Arena officials have considered getting rid of those zones for years, Semrau said. Though he estimates the number of people who smoke at arena events is low, he said tobacco smoke drifting into the building while children were present was enough to trigger complaints. “Most guests and staff said they didn’t want smoking allowed anymore.”

“The community itself has voted to remove smoking from most establishments, and this is another step in that direction,” Semrau said, referring to city laws restricting smoking indoors.

“We thought this was the right next step for the facility,” he said. “With any change, you’ll always have some negative feedback. But we hope to address what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and we believe it will not have a major impact on guests.”

Information about the new policy will be sent to season ticket holders in the next week, he said.

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