Tom Hackbarth files bill to bring back smoking in bars

Return of the smoky bar?

Return of the smoky bar?

Smokers haven't been able to light up in Minnesota bars since 2007, but a group of state representatives want to bring us back to those heady days of barside cigarettes.

A bill filed today would allow smoking in bars, provided the bars install a ventilation system that exchanges the air inside every two hours.


State Rep. Tom Hackbarth, an author of the bill, says it will help increase business for struggling bars and restaurants.

"These businesses are hurting right now, we need to do something," Hackbarth told City Pages. "I've been hearing about this from bar owners ever since the ban went into place."

Whether bar patronage will actually increase if non-smokers have to contend with Marlboro men on either side of them is anyone's guess. But Hackbarth says with an adequate ventilation system, legal smoking should be a no-brainer.

Readers may remember Hackbarth as the guy police found wandering around the parking lot of Planned Parenthood clinic with a loaded gun last November.

That little incident cost Hackbarth a committee chairmanship, but it did nothing to dull his enthusiasm for packing heat: He introduced another bill this year to amend the state constitution to include a strong defense of gun rights.

Another author of the legislation, Mark Buesgens, had his own run-in with the cops over the summer when he was arrested for drunk driving.

Most of the other authors of the smoking bill are Republicans too, but not entirely: Democrat Tom Rukavina is also on board.

The bill has been referred to the Health and Human Services Reform Committee for further consideration.