City passes restaurant smoking ban

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2005

Restaurant smoking sections in Luverne will soon become a thing of the past.

On Monday night, the council voted to establish a no-smoking ordinance for all food and/or beverage establishments inside the city. The ordinance is expected to go into effect on April 15 of this year, said Luverne Mayor Joe Rex Sport.

"We had several responses to our public notice for the no-smoking ordinance," said Sport. "The majority of the comments were positive and in support of it."

Restaurants will be required to post signage informing patrons and employees of the smoking ban. Restaurants will also be required to enforce the no-smoking ordinance or face fines in excess of $500 that could include the suspension of a city business license for repeated violators. Should an owner or manager attempt to enforce this ordinance and a patron refuse then the patron will be in violation of the ordinance.

Despite the passing of the ordinance, Mark Grant, owner of Our House restaurant, is against the ban and believes his business will suffer because of the no-smoking policy. Our House, along with the Chicken Shack, were just a few of the businesses within the city limits that offered a smoking section to its patrons.

"Point blank, I'm totally against this ordinance," said Grant. "To me it's a violation of the rights of the private businesses and what the Fourth of July stands for. It's devastating to see a handful of people take away our liberty like that."

Restaurants may offer employees a smoking lounge if the lounge can physically be separated (by a wall) from the dining area and be served with a ventilation system. The ordinance also does not apply to designated 'smoking-rooms' in lodging areas, such as hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Smoking, as defined in the ordinance, is the 'inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe and or other lighted tobacco product in any manner or form.' The ordinance does not apply to smokeless tobacco products.