Fargo Cigar Club Owner Thinks He’s Found A Way Around New State Smoking Prohibition

no-smoking

The owner of JT Cigarro’s in Fargo thinks he’s found a loophole in the smoking ban law:

The new law lists few exceptions, but one of them is “any area that is not commonly accessible to the public and which is part of an owner operated business having no employee other than the owner operator.”

Coulter said he runs an owner-operator business out of a separate room in the JT Cigarro building, and he is the only employee. He plans on letting customers smoke inside that room.

“We’re gonna follow the law to a T … the way they wrote it,” he said. “I don’t write the laws; they do.”

Not surprisingly, to anti-tobacco gestapo sees things differently.

There might be some problems with his understanding of the law though, said Robyn Litke Sall, a tobacco prevention coordinator for Fargo Cass Public Health, one of the organizations in charge of enforcing the law. …

“If he’s allowing other people to be in there other than himself, that’s not allowed by the law,” Litke Sall said.

Coulter argued the exemption states that the “public” must not regularly enter the area, but patrons who wish to smoke could still come in.

Litke Sall said that’s not her read of the law.

“Those people that he’s going to allow in there, I don’t know how he could exclude them from being members of the ‘public,’ because we’re all members of the ‘public,’ ” she said.

I was talking with a friend about this the other day, and we were wondering if you could get around the ban by closing off your business, or a part of your business, to “members only” and charge a fee or something to enter? It wouldn’t be open to the public. It would be open to members. The problem is that the law also prohibits employees from being in such area, so the business owner himself/herself would have to be the exclusive worker in that area.

Not very convenient.

Still, though, let’s admire the absurdity here. This is a business that caters exclusively to smokers. The patrons go there to smoke. The employees apply to work there knowing the cornerstone of the business is cigar smoking. Nobody is being forced to expose themselves to tobacco smoke. It’s a choice they’re making. But now, thanks to the law, they aren’t allowed to make that choice.

Because some people think they know what’s best for others.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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