The Bismarck City Commission Tuesday will introduce an ordinance to fit into the new statewide smoking ban. The city has a smoking ban for most public buildings, all bars, truck stops and smoke shops. The statewide ban took effect Dec. 6 and its restrictions are already being followed.
City Attorney Charlie Whitman said Friday there won’t be significant adjustments to the city code. “There will be distant changes and some definitions to work with,” he said.
He said that “butt huts” now closer than the 20-foot setback from the door required by the state may have to file for a variance from the City of Bismarck Environmental Health Division.
Under the state law, smoking huts cannot be near a window or door that is still operable. He said a business could apply for a waiver if it can prove the butt hut will not cause any more smoke to enter the public building. “We’re waiting for the state to give us some guidelines,” Whitman said. He said there also are questions about enclosed smoking areas because they cannot be enclosed any more than 33 percent. “They must be 66 percent open on each end,” he said.
Bismarck’s previous 10-foot setback allowed for those smoking near an entrance of a public doorway increased to 20 feet under the new law. Bismarck code will have to reflect that.
“All the cities have the same issues,” Whitman said. “All this does is bring Bismarck in compliance with the state law.” He said cities that allowed smoking in bars just won’t have smoking in them any more. The state will have to clear up the question of what can and cannot be done with existing enclosed smoking areas.
“All hotel rooms are now smoke-free,” Whitman said.
He said people can smoke in a private apartment unless the owner has made the building smoke-free. “They can’t smoke in the common areas, the lobby or hallways or other areas open to the public,” said Whitman.
He expects with the new state law in place, there will be few new business applications in Bismarck for butt huts because of the stricter laws. “It wouldn’t be much more than hut with a roof over it,” Whitman said.