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Minnesota’s Hennepin County Tightens Smoking Restrictions

I won’t ask, “When will the smoking bans stop?” because I’m afraid of the answer. Minnesota’s Hennepin County has been added to the long list of locales with absurdly strict smoking ordinances, according to an article in Daily Mail Online. The existing policy prohibits smoking within 45 feet of building entrances; the new one would prohibit smoking on any county-owned property, including in your car.

I know—I did a double take when I first read it. You can’t smoke in your own car, with the windows closed, even if you have your own ashtray. The measure passed by a vote of 6-1, with the only “no” being Commissioner Jeff Johnson, a non-smoker, who said the measure goes too far, according to an article on Minnesota Public Radio’s website.

Board Chair Mike Opat says a coverall ban is easier to enforce than the existing policy. “If we take away the ashtrays and take away the containers and have appropriate signage, I think the security officers will have a lot less to do.”

Or will they? I personally think they’ll be constantly ushering smokers away from impossibly huge nonsmoking areas, so much so that if there was ever a real threat to be handled, they’d be totally swamped. Thankfully there are a few exceptions to the new policy—drivers on county roads can still smoke in their cars, and so can psychiatric patients in a designated area of the Hennepin Medical Center.

As I said, I don’t think there’s a point to saying, “When will it end?” because apparently, it won’t anytime soon. I didn’t see anything on the Cigar Rights of America website about this, but I’m sure they’ll put something up in the near future.