Smoking Outside: MN Rochester

Minnesota ROCHESTER, MN — One month after being rejected, a new smoking ban on public streets in downtown Rochester is almost a reality.

Smoking Ban on Public Streets

November 27, 2007?
Chris Woodard, KTTC TV

ROCHESTER, MN — One month after being rejected, a new smoking ban on public streets in downtown Rochester is almost a reality.

The area smokers can no longer light up could be getting even larger by next summer.

The City Council is calling it a compromise.

The medical no smoking area, proposed by owners of the Kahler Hotel, is not as large as it once was.

Original plans included the entire area around the Kahler Hotel, but the area’s been cut in half and for the city council that seems to be good enough.

You don’t have to look far to find a smoker in downtown Rochester and with a new state ban inside workplaces and a Mayo Clinic ban anywhere on their property, one of the few places left to light up is outside.

Bruce Fairchild with the Kahler Hotel says, “We’ve had a number of guests complain to us about it.”

The cigarette butts outside the Kahler Hotel are proof it’s a smoker hot spot, but it could soon be snuffed out.

The city council is looking favorably at a proposal making smoking illegal on 2nd Avenue Southwest between the Kahler Hotel and Mayo Clinic Gonda Building.

This, after rejecting a plan to make a several block area smoke free.

City Council President Denny Hanson says, “We don’t want to impact people in the community any more than we have to.”

The reason hotel staff say this street needs to be smoke free is because of the number of medical guests they have, many walking right across the street to the clinic.

The new plan is also getting support from the business community.

Chamber of Commerce President John Wade says, “This is a very, very unique environment.”

Some worry this is just a start and soon government will leave smokers with no place left to puff.

In fact, the city council is still considering extending this ban onto the soon to be completed peace plaza.

Hanson says, “Should it be smoke free? I think the majority of the people would say yes, but there is that part of the community that does still smoke and smoking is legal.”

Of course many smokers are not thrilled with the idea but some do say they understand and just hope the no smoking area doesn’t get any larger.

The council will vote next Monday on whether or not to make this 2nd Avenue ban official.

As far as the peace plaza goes, they’re waiting for a recommendation from the Rochester Downtown Alliance.

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