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Associated Press, Published October 19 2010

Bismarck bar smoking ban might go to public vote

BISMARCK (AP) — A group of Bismarck bar workers says it has collected more than enough signatures to refer a new city ordinance banning smoking in bars to a vote of the people.

North Dakota Public Radio reports that the group plans to take the petitions to City Hall on Thursday afternoon.

One new ordinance bans smoking in bars. Another allows bars to build outdoor "butt huts" for smokers.

They're to take effect Nov. 1 but would be suspended if the referral group has enough petition signatures. If it has at least 970 valid names, the City Commission could call a special election or wait until the next scheduled city election. That's in June 2012.

Advocates say smoking restrictions are needed to protect nonsmoking bar employees from secondhand smoke. Opponents say a ban would infringe on personal choices.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.