WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published April 05, 2010, 10:04 PM

Grand Forks City Council Passes Smoking Ban

Starting August 15th you will no longer be able to smoke in any Grand Forks workplaces.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

Starting August 15th you will no longer be able to smoke in any Grand Forks workplaces. The City Council narrowly passed the controversial ordinance changing the city's smoking ban tonight. The Council heard from people who were concerned about the health hazards of second hand smoke, and from people who thought the ban would violate smokers' rights. It also heard from business owners who were concerned about what the ban would mean for them. Business owners at the meeting were especially upset, and some council members were unhappy with it as well.

"I expect an initial dip in sales of 20-25 percent," said Big Daddy's Lounge Manager Tony Kvasager.

"There are still going to be employees exposed to second hand smoke and third hand smoke even though you've passed this," said City Council Member Terry Bjerke.

The council made some amendments to the ordinance. People will be able to smoke in shelters, and those must be at least 50 percent open to the air. The sale and consumption of alcohol will be allowed in outdoor areas, but not food. And smokers must light up at least fifteen feet away from a business's entrance.

"Fifteen feet outside of Gilly's would put them in front of Caulfield's, and I don't know if Caulfield's would be very comfortable with that," said Gilly's Owner Josh Gilleland.

Those in support of the ban say it was necessary to protect the health of both customers and workers. Some say people don't always choose to work in a smoke-filled environment. Others say it should have been up to the people to decide, and that the issue should have gone to a public vote.

"And they took it upon themselves to defer away from that with basically no explanation," said Kvasager.

The motion narrowly passed 4-3, with Mayor Michael Brown making the deciding vote.

The Council hasn't yet decided whether or not hotels and motels will be exempt.