By Becky Newby
Arts and Entertainment Editor
Over one month has passed since the state-wide smoking ban went into effect, but its impact on Winona bars might not be known for some time.
While few bar owners in Winona are concerned about the drop in business as a result of the smoking ban, others are waiting to see how the winter goes.
Chad Brink, bartender at Gabby’s Bar and Lounge on 3rd Street, said the smoking ban hasn’t affected the bars yet.
“A lot of people say they like going outside to smoke,” Brink said. “It’s less crowded.” Brink said that the smoking ban’s true impact won’t be known until winter sets in when the customers will be less willing to step outside for a cigarette.
The Freedom to Breathe Act went into effect in Minnesota on Oct. 1, 2007. The law prohibits smoking in nearly all public and indoor places of employment including bars, restaurants, and private clubs such as American Legion or VFW posts.
Cigarettes can still be purchased at the bar, but they must be enjoyed outside.
The general manager at Schyde’s Drinks and Whatnot on Johnson Street said the effects due to the smoking ban have only been positive.
“I don’t want to smell like smoke. If you need a cigarette – go outside,” he said.
Businesses are required to post no smoking signs and ask people who are smoking to stop – or leave – if they refuse. They will be monitored by the department of health and local law enforcement agencies.
The smoking ban was signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty to protect employees and the general public from the health hazards caused by secondhand smoke.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, secondhand smoke is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States.