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    Anti-Smoking Group Seeks Stronger Ban in Minnesota

    Ramsey County ordinance now permits smoking in bars.

    A Minnesota anti-tobacco nonprofit organization that funds campaigns for community smoking bans will contribute $1.3 million to anti-smoking groups to promote smoke-free initiatives, according to the Star Tribune.

    The Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco (MPAAT) said it will spend $180,000 in an attempt to strengthen a smoking ban in Ramsey County, Minn. Ordinances in Minneapolis and Hennepin County forbid smoking in all bars and restaurants. But the one in Ramsey County permits smoking in bars that sell a limited amount of food.

    "These [anti-smoking] groups will never stop," said Tom Day, vice president of government affairs for Hospitality Minnesota, which represents restaurants and hotels. "They say there is a level they agree to, but they always want more."

    The nonprofit also will give $1.8 million to researchers for smoking-related studies.
    MPAAT was created in 1998 as part of Minnesota's multibillion-dollar settlement with tobacco companies and was given a $202 million endowment.

    MPAAT said its grants this year include $600,000 for Grassroots Solutions Inc., to provide technical assistance and training to organizations who want to develop smoke-free campaigns and $180,000 to the Association for Nonsmokers - Minnesota, based in St. Paul, to promote the stronger ban in Ramsey County. Another $180,000 will go to CentraCare Health Foundation in St. Cloud. The money will go to the Central Minnesota Heart Center, which is part of a six-city coalition of anti-smoking groups advocating for smoke-free policies. University of Minnesota researchers will receive more than $517,000 to study ways improve use of MPAAT's smoking cessation website, www.quitplan.com.

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