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Scott Hennen, Published October 27 2012

Letter: Nanny state out of control

Of all the questions we decide on Election Day, the proposed North Dakota smoking ban is the most ill-conceived yet philosophically important of all.

There are the lost jobs (Ohio’s smoking ban cost 5,400), and the additional burden on police; also the fact that this silly law would ban tobaccoless e-cigarettes smokers use to quit. But my biggest concern is the nanny state assault on personal freedom, property rights and local control. The water-torture approach to limiting personal choice borders on harassment.

Where did we get the crazy idea that government has the right to tell property owners what can and can’t be used on their property? Obviously, we understand laws against crimes like murder, illegal drug use and prostitution. But this is about tobacco, a legal product, used on private property.

Then there’s local control. Several communities, including Fargo/West Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Devils Lake, used local referenda to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. Though I opposed those efforts as an assault on freedom and property rights, at least local residents were the deciders. This statewide smoking ban is an aggressive effort to assert state supremacy over local governments. Where does it stop?

For example, let’s say Fargo decides to enact a local sand mining moratorium. Does that become a state precedent to regulate the Bakken?

There’s also the left-wing agenda in this equation. Remember, this mess all began with a tobacco settlement engineered by Heidi Heitkamp as attorney general. Now “smoking police” money is funding her U.S. Senate candidacy.

In fact, Heitkamp wrote the language that allows North Dakota to raid the water trust fund if they don’t make enough progress with anti-smoking campaigns. Meanwhile, after millions spent on anti-smoking campaigns, tobacco sales are up in North Dakota.

This smoking ban is really part of the much broader left-wing agenda to stomp on personal liberties, curtail property rights and impose state mandates on local communities.

So, on Nov. 6, vote “yes” to freedom, property rights and local control by voting “no” on Measure 4.


Hennen hosts the Common Sense Club radio show on AM 1100 “The Flag” from

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and AM 1090 KTGO Williston/Tioga from 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays. Reach him at (855)200-1776 or Scott@ScottHennen.com