Published November 06 2012
North Dakota voters approve smoking banBISMARCK – North Dakotans appeared Tuesday night to approve Measure 4, an initiative that will ban smoking in indoor workplaces across the state.
As of 10:50 p.m., with 340 of 426 precincts reporting, the measure was leading by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent, or 141,138 votes to 72,911 votes.
Measure 4 bans smoking in places where North Dakota state law previously allowed for it, including bars, tobacco shops, taxis, motel rooms and private nursing home rooms.
The ban also requires smokers to be at least 20 feet away from buildings. Tobacco-less e-cigarettes are also included in the ban.
Violators could be fined $50, and bars that still allow smoking could be subject to having their liquor license revoked.
Chelsey Matter, chairwoman of Smoke-Free North Dakota, the group that placed the measure on the ballot, said the ban will have significant health benefits for the state.
“Twenty-nine states have gone smoke-free before us,” she said. “It’s exciting for us to see those same benefits that those states have seen for years.”
Matter said the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy would be working with local and state health departments to develop information packets for businesses that will be affected by the ban.
“We’re hoping for a smooth transition,” she said.
Opponents of the ban argue that the decision to prohibit smoking should be up to individual establishments, and that the ban goes too far in its requirements for public signage and outdoor smoking.