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Minnesota Proposal Would Allow Smoking In Bars

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By Bruce Hagevik, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — A Minnesota lawmaker wants to let bar patrons smoke again, more than three years after a statewide smoking ban took effect.

Republican Rep. Tom Hackbarth of Cedar introduced legislation Monday that would allow smoking in bars, including bars attached to restaurants.

Smoking would still be banned in restaurants. Bars attached to restaurants would have to be separated physically by walls and doors kept closed.

The bill would give bars as long as six years to install ventilation systems, depending on how much of their sales come from drinks. The ventilation requirement would kick in next year for bars that sell more food than alcohol.

The bill has been referred to a health panel.

The American Lung Association in Minnesota was quick to speak out against the proposal to allow smoking in bars.

“Frankly, this is a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist,” said Bob Moffitt of the American Lung Association.

He said it would mean two sets of health standards for workers — one for those who are employed in bars and another for those working in offices.

“The Freedom To Breathe Act Of 2007 was a big step forward in protecting the health of workers in bars, restaurants and clubs and to go backwards now just doesn’t make much sense,” said Moffitt.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Bruce Hagevik Reports

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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