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Forum staff reports, Published January 18 2013

Bar owner likely won’t be sued over smoking ban

FARGO – It’s unlikely that legal action will be taken against the owner of a south Fargo bar who was trying to skirt the statewide smoking ban through what he called a “loophole” in the law.

According to a WDAY-TV report, the State’s Attorney’s Office said it’s being patient with Dana Coulter, owner of JT Cigarro, because Coulter is close to selling the business.

Sources told WDAY that a deal is in the works and the business will soon change hands.

Despite a statewide ban that went into effect last month, Coulter was still allowing customers to smoke in a locked, “members only” room attached to his bar. An electronic keycard and paid membership dues were required to get in. He believed it was legal under one of the ban’s exemptions.

A city attorney and public health officials said they believed Coulter was still breaking the law, and the director of Fargo Cass Public Health filed a complaint with an assistant Cass County state’s attorney late last month.