Some say no to Hutchinson's hotel smoking banby Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
This spring the town of Hutchinson, about an hour west of the Twin Cities, banned smoking in all workplaces. The rule is similar to the state's ban on smoking in public places, except Hutchinson's ban includes individual rooms in hotels and motels.
Collegeville, Minn. — Brad Jacobson doesn't have a problem with the state's new smoking ban that covers restaurants, bars and other public places. But Jacobson, who runs the AmericInn in Hutchinson, says the city of Hutchinson went too far last spring when it banned smoking in private rooms in hotels and motels.
"Somebody comes to a hotel room, they check in, they sign a contract, they walk in a room, and there's an expectation of privacy there," Jacobson says. "If you're in a bar or restaurant, you lose a bit of your expectation of privacy. You're in a public place around a whole bunch of people."
Hutchinson's mayor Steve Cook says the whole idea of a workplace smoking ban is to protect workers. So he says the employees who go into individual hotel rooms shouldn't have to breath second hand smoke either. "Here we have employees going in to clean up the rooms, why should they be subjected to that same hazard," Cook says.
Hotel manager Brad Jacobsen says hotel owners don't put workers in a room where someone is smoking. They send them in hours after the smoker has checked out, and Jacobson says the smoking ban hasn't stopped some people from smoking in his hotel, they just smoke near an open window.
"Or, they go in the bathroom where there's the vent that vents it outside," and Jacobson says that poses a fire hazard.
He wants the city to end its ban on smoking in individual hotel rooms. He says in return he'd be willing to put filtration systems in the smoking rooms, or reduce the number of rooms set aside for smoking customers.
Hutchinson Mayor Steve Cook stands by his city's strict smoking ban, which is similar to one that went into place at the beginning of the year in Beltrami County.
"I kind of see it as some of the early stages of the whole smoking issue state wide, as far as the first bars and restaurants and communities that took that step, here we're kind of on the leading edge of this part of it as well," Cook says.
Hutchinson's mayor says the leading edge of smoking bans might just head into areas that people have long considered private. In fact this week one Minnesota anti-smoking group started a campaign pushing for voluntary smoking bans in apartments and condos.
- All Things Considered, 11/13/2007, 5:20 p.m.