Duluth voters approve smoking ban
Duluth voters approved Tuesday an existing smoking ban that was put to a public referendum and tough new amendments that end business hardship exemptions and give police authority to cite restaurant owners who allow smoking.
With 38 out of 42 precincts reporting, 62 percent of the votes were in favor of keeping the ban. On a separate referendum, 53 percent voted to phase out hardship exemptions allowed under the current ban and require business owners to enforce it or be fined.
Several restaurants had been granted exemptions after proving a significant drop in business. That led competitors to complain that establishments with exemptions had an unfair advantage.
Police had also complained the ban was difficult to enforce because it gave them no authority to ticket restaurant owners who allowed their customers to smoke.
Restaurants and restaurants with bars can no longer have smoking sections or allow smoking after 8 p.m. The new ordinance also bans smoking in pool halls and bowling alleys.
Bars would be the only businesses that could allow smoking.
Last January, Duluth became the second Minnesota city, after Moose Lake, to ban smoking in restaurants and other indoor public places. Cloquet has since followed suit. Anti-smoking activists say Duluth's experience could be a "test case" for other cities considering bans.