News today is that North Dakota’s “smoking grade” has improved thanks to the recently-passed statewide smoking ban. Unfortunately, that ban is also killing perfectly legal and profitable businesses.
Todd Pryor is a small business owner in Minot, North Dakota. He owns the Great Plains Smoke Shop and, right next door, the Garage Lounge which is a cigar bar catering to people who want to enjoy tobacco with their drinks. In addition to himself, his businesses employ three other people.
I interviewed Mr. Pryor about the impact the state’s smoking ban has had on his business, and not surprisingly things haven’t been good. Due to the smoking ban, which requires that anyone wishing to smoke go outside and at least 20 feet away from any door or operable window on his establishment, Pryor estimates he’s lost 80% of his business.
He’s looking at losing his business thanks to the ban.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6iAixaZ7hg&w=560&h=315]
Pryor told me that he’s heard from his alcohol distributors that other bars are in trouble too, particularly smaller bars in larger cities that compete by carving out a niche catering to the “smoking crowd,” and small town bars are feeling the pinch too.
It seems odd, to this observer, that we need a smoking ban that applies to establishments that seek to cater to smokers and nobody else. Can a willing business owner not cater to a willing customer who wants to use a 100% legal product like tobacco? There are plenty of choices, when it comes to bars and restaurants and the like, for those wishing to avoid smoke. Do we really need to drive small business owners under for the sake of this modern-day prohibition movement?
Pryor’s case is a sad one, and his story ought to resonate with the state’s lawmakers and the voters who approved this sorry policy.