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Bars one year into smoke-free

By Staff | Dec 6, 2013

Tim Chapman/PCT Lee Ekren rings up a customer on Tuesday at Lee’s Bar.

Rugby bars have been smoke free for just over one year now. Three of the city’s bar owners said business hasn’t been hurt because the state ban made for an even playing field.

Lee Ekren has owned Lee’s Bar for 47 years and said the ban didn’t especially bother him or affect his business. He said it wasn’t a bar of many regular smokers anyway, and people haven’t seemed to mind walking outside for a cigarette.

“Doesn’t make any difference to me,” Ekren said. “I’ve been here so long I figured if I’m gonna get (business), I’m gonna get it anyways.

Dan and Tracy Corum own Third Street Station and Tom Nowell owns I.C. Dubbles. Dan Corum and Nowell are opposed to the law, believing the decision should be up to each business, but neither has seen their profits affected much.

“It’s probably helped our food sales a bit, actually,” Dan Corum said. “Outside we have a lot of extra cigarettes to clean up. It’s kind of tough to stay on top of that.”

Said Nowell: “I don’t think it’s really hurt us much. Initially, there were people not happy about it.”

Dan Corum doesn’t mind going outside because he does the same when smoking at his residence. Tracy Corum, who also smokes, is pleased with the way their establishment feels and looks without cigarette smoke.

“It’s way nicer inside,” she said. “You don’t have all that smoke film.”

As of June, North Dakota was still the latest of 28 states to enact statewide bans in enclosed public places.

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