Published October 26 2012
Poll: More favor snuffing public puffingFARGO – North Dakota voters appear ready to approve Measure 4, an initiative that would ban smoking in public places across the state.
A poll of 500 likely voters conducted for Forum Communications found 61 percent of respondents plan to support the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, with 36 percent opposed and 4 percent undecided.
The measure would prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces where state law now allows it, including bars, tobacco shops, taxis, motel rooms and private nursing home rooms.
It would also ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places, and require people to be at least 20 feet away from buildings when smoking. Violators of the ban would be fined $50.
Along party lines, the poll found that self-described Democrats and independents were more likely to support the measure than Republicans, though a majority of all three groups were in favor of the ban.
Among poll respondents, 70 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans said they would vote for the measure.
Geographically, support was highest in Cass and Grand Forks counties, at 69 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Sixty-one percent of Burleigh County respondents said they would vote for the ban. In Stutsman County, more than 63 percent of those polled were in favor, though the sample size was too small to be statistically significant.
Among the counties the poll highlighted, the only places where a majority opposed the ban were Stark and Williams – where 53 percent were against it. However, the sample sizes for those counties were also too small to be statistically significant.
The poll found high support for the measure among women, with 66 percent saying they would approve the ban. Support among men was slightly lower, with 56 percent approving.
Although support for the ban was high among all age demographics – at least 57 percent – respondents older than 65 approved of the ban by a wider margin than younger voters, with 66 percent in favor.
Measure 4 was placed on the ballot in August after a group called Smoke-Free North Dakota submitted a petition to Secretary of State Al Jaeger with more than the 13,452 necessary signatures.
The measure would be similar to smoking bans already in effect in eleven North Dakota cities, according to the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy – Bismarck, Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Pembina, Cavalier, Munich, Lisbon, Linton and Napoleon.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535