Fargo business owner thinks he’s found smoking ban loophole

FARGO – A local bar and cigar lounge owner here believes he has a way to get around the state smoking ban that is effective today.

“They left one little loophole open, and we will be taking full advantage of that,” Dana Coulter, owner of JT Cigarro and Skky Bar, told The Forum on Wednesday.

Retail tobacco stores had been exempt in Fargo’s city ban but are now explicitly defined as smoke-free zones under the ban approved by voters Nov. 6.

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.”

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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