The indoor smoking ban: boon or bane?

Rueb sidewalk The Rueb (a client) has put some flowers on both sides of the bench on the Division St. sidewalk at its front door, with a basket of sand for cigarette butts.

Anyone else notice similar accommodations being made by local bar owners since the indoor smoking ban went into effect a month ago?

If you have an anecdote related to the new smoking ban, attach a comment.


  1. John Thomas said:

    The seating area is really nice and is a nice improvement to this business, except for the basket/ashtray.

    I think that if this (or any) business wanted a smoking area, that it should not be on a public sidewalk. There is a big difference between an outdoor dining area, and an outdoor smoking area.

    I think that these are better left for outdoor decks, etc.

    I would feel the same way if an individual was sitting on this bench, with a drink in his hand.

    There are better places.

    I wonder what the city ordinance says about outdoor smoking areas on public walkways?

    I am not anti-smoking, I just think there are better places than on a public sidewalk.

    This smoking ban has made outdoor dining impossible. I have seen it in both the cities, as well as here in Northfield.

    It would be nice to be able to take a family out, and be able to sit outside. A couple of establishments have been trying to be family friendly. On a recent outing, where we wanted to sit on the deck and eat by the river, we arrived early (5 PM) to have dinner. We were the only folks on the deck. We were seated as a family, and were having dinner. Within 5 minutes of our food arriving, about 10 indivudals and couples arrived on the deck. Every single one of them lit up. It was so bad, that we had to abandon our meal, and take the family home. The smoke was so bad, you could not breathe. It was not the environment to keep a 9 year old in. It will be the last time we attempt to eat on the deck at that establishment, and that is a shame. The food and service is good, but we cannot enjoy their outside seating as a family. It is a shame.

    As a family, we only patronized resturants in Northfield that were completely non-smoking prior to the ban. Post-ban, we still patronize those establishments that were non-smoking and family friendly. Many places, even though they are now smoke free, have not taken the necessary steps to remove the residue of years of smoking in thier establishments. The smell just does not go away because it is banned.

    November 14, 2007
  2. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I haven’t noticed if Froggy Bottoms has put out more sand containers for butts along Water Street since the smoking ban or not. I put coffee cans by my shop earlier in the summer during the drought. The grass died out, leaving a sea of butts in front of me and Basil Pizza, which was very unsightly.

    Things are better now, though it does bother me that certain individuals still stand and throw butts down the storm sewer, no doubt not realizing that these end up in the river. Out of sight, out of mind.

    November 15, 2007
  3. Dan Freeman said:

    How about this radical suggestion: Let’s turn all of downtown Northfield into a non-smoking area. Ever since the ban I now get smoke blown in my face every few feet of downtown instead of being able to stay entirely away from smoke by choosing a non-smoking restaurant. I have never considered myself to be radical in any way. What makes me a radical in this arena is the fact that smoke kills in the extreme and makes us smell bad in the less extreme. Does anybody out there know about the legality of such a proposal?

    November 15, 2007
  4. Julie Bixby said:

    There are side affects (sidewalk?) to every “cure”. What bothers me the most is that our government-local-state-national-is dictating to all of us what we can and cannot do. This “land” we live in was based on freedoms. Where have they gone?
    I am not a smoker. I do not like to smell smoke. I do not frequent establishments that were filled with smoke. Do I advocate that the government dictate to a business owner what they can and cannot do? What they will allow in their establishment? No! What has happened to “free enterprise”? I think smoking, among other things is unpleasant. Should people have the freedom to choose to smoke? Do I have the freedom to choose not to be around that?
    Why, as my boss has said on many an occasion, do we take a sledge hammer to crack a walnut?

    November 15, 2007
  5. John Thomas said:


    I am trying to better understand your position. Are you advocating less ordinaces, less laws, and less government?

    Do you then think that the city should become ordinance free? Should there be less ordinances?

    Do you think that we should have adult establishments downtown or in our community?

    Do you feel that businesses should be able to have musical entertainment as loud as they want, as late as they want, that impact their neighbors?

    Do you think that businesses should be allowed to have open containers in front of thier businesses?

    Do you think that a business should be able to cram as many customers in thier establishment as the size will allow, then add a few more for extra profit, safety be damned?

    How about each business putting a porta-john on the sidewalk next to thier outdoor dining areas?

    How about a 30×40 foot bright LED sign on the side of a building downtown, or a hot pink storefront in the middle of historic downtown?

    None of these questions have anything to do with free enterprise. There always has to be “some” controls for the public good.

    However, ordinances and the smoking ban are different animals all together.

    I feel that I have just as much right to the freedom to not encounter second hand smoke as the smoker has to kill himself slowly in my presence. I just choose not to be around him when he does so, and I should not have to walk around him or her when they are doing it.

    I do think I see your point, but I think that the smoking ban for resturants will be a good thing for everyone.

    I am of the belief that an individual should be able to do pretty much whatever they want, as long as it is not illegal, and not injuring others.

    Smoking violates the second part. Second hand smoke injures others, therefore, ones ability to smoke where it impacts others, should be legistated.

    November 15, 2007
  6. Froggy Bottoms has been smoke-free from the beginning before the ban but does allow smoking on the outdoor patio. As it gets colder, this will be a less inviting alternative for smokers, who will huddle together around a small heater as snowflakes fall around them.

    November 15, 2007
  7. Julie Bixby said:

    Wow John! Back up.
    I simply said that businesses, pubs/restaurants, should be able to choose whether they allow smoking or not. This does not mean that I am for “adult entertainment” downtown! Nor does it mean I am anti-government, laws, ordinances…

    Obviously, we need laws and regulations. Without stop signs there would be more accidents…

    Please remember I am not a smoker and did not frequent establishments that allowed smoking. I was afforded the choice. I believe business owners should be afforded the same choice. After all, it is their business and smoking is not illegal.
    People are not forced to patronize any establishment.
    Perhaps, if smoking had been banned outside in public areas it might have been more beneficial. (I think this will happen in the non too distant future)

    I chose to work in an establishment that was non-smoking. The Contented Cow was the first non-smoking pub in Northfield. (And people told Norman it would never work!)

    November 16, 2007
  8. John Thomas said:

    Noted Julie…

    I just came off an interesting discussion the other night about government, and how nothing will ever change unless there is a monetary motivation to do so. I guess I just carried that debate on.

    The discussion centered on too much government control… then degraded into “the government should really provide tax incentives”. It was a very crazy discussion, as the individual was back and forth.

    However, I am just an average citizen, but I see things going on downtown that I know just do not seem right. There has to be ordinances on some of this, or at least the businesses are taking the ordinances right to the limits. There is the historical district, full of modern paper boxes, businesses with what seem like 14 signs out front, stuff all over the sidewalks, and folks still biking and skateboarding at will. The city should either enforce the ordinance code, or repeal it.

    November 16, 2007
  9. kiffi summa said:

    Julie and John: Your “back and forth” here has raised some interesting questions. What is the determining factor in the core downtown, the historic district…John seems to have a lot of issues with small (?) details, colors, signage, “paper boxes” (do you mean the newspaper dispensers?), people riding bikes and skateboarding. Julie is standing up for both personal and “ownership” choice.

    Who should make the determination for the conditions which control the historic district. Well, to start with, their are National Trust basic Guidelines; if you want to be a historic district you have to follow those guidelines.

    But then there is a local board (the HPC) that interprets those guidelines, and I can assure you , that whether you, or I, or any other building owner or citizen agrees with the HPC’s rulings all the time, their intentions are for the best.

    Now here’s where I think the problem comes in… the wonderful and sometimes annoying, diversity of opinion of any group of thinking individuals. The building owner makes a choice of color, signage, whatever, and the HPC has to approve it. I consider it MY choice as to how my building should look, what will be best for it, after all it is MY building. We’re very strong on personal property rights , in this country, right? However, anyone buying a piece of property in the historic district should know there will be some constrictions on what they do.

    Differing opinions; both valid. This is precisely why we need working Boards of Appeal. We need one for the new Rental Code; that is in the process of being developed.

    We need one for the Building Code, which since it cannot be site specific to every situation, is often INTERPRETED by the building official. This interpretation can be physically or financially impossible in the building owner’s eyes. So the impact of that interpretation has a lot larger impact on the finances and personal property rights for the property owner.
    But the Board of Appeals for the building code seems to be stuck in the “mud” of process.
    The Rental BOA and the Building Code BOA need to be developed in tandem as they will often have overlapping issues. They have huge ramifications of financial impact, and need to be free from city staff influence, in order to provide balance. It remains to be seen how all this will work out…

    Julie and John: What do you think?

    P.S. (By the way,the appeal from the HPC’s ruling is to the City Council).

    November 18, 2007
  10. Julie Bixby said:

    Kiffi – I agree with you.

    I agree that the HPC , as other committees and organizations, are sincere and zealous about what they do. However, there are incidences when personal opinions enter into decisions. Is that reasonable? Should that be challenged? (Board(s) of Appeal!!)
    For example, the gentleman who bought the 300 Division St. building about 3-4 years ago did extensive remodeling. He spoke with me regarding his frustration with the HPC, among others. He had researched the original colors on the outside of the building. He presented those to the HPC. Those colors were not approved because, according to him, the HPC didn’t like them. What does a building owner do in that situation?
    I didn’t know that to appeal an HPC decision one can go to the City Council. Thank you Kiffi for that info. I wonder how many know that. Even if they do it just makes the process longer, which is another angst. I realize that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, but the “hoops” a person must go thru to get anything done is extremely time consuming and we all know time is money!

    The Building Code BOA and the Rental Code BOA are vitally important, even if it makes the process longer. Isn’t it more democratic than one or two people making decisions for all?
    Our judicial system has a method for appeal. It seems more than reasonable for our community to have a similar process.

    November 19, 2007
  11. kiffi summa said:

    City Council, take note: Another vote for the immediate establishment of the Building Code Board of Appeals.

    November 19, 2007
  12. Julie Bixby said:

    Kiffi, do you know if committees set up by the city (i.e. Building Code BOA) would be covered under the city’s liability insurance, should anyone decide to sue?

    November 26, 2007
  13. kiffi summa said:

    Julie: Good question … I have no idea what the answer is. Call Maren Swanson and ask; she is very accomodating, in my experience.

    November 26, 2007

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