North Dakota voters to decide on smoking ban in indoor workplacesNorth Dakota voters took to the polls on Election Day to decide on Measure 4, a ballot initiative that would ban smoking in indoor workplaces across the state.
By: By Sam Benshoof , Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — North Dakota voters took to the polls on Election Day to decide on Measure 4, a ballot initiative that would ban smoking in indoor workplaces across the state.
As of 9:10 p.m., with 95 of 426 precincts reporting, the measure was leading by a margin of 67 percent to 33 percent, or 35,318 votes to 17,348 votes.
Measure 4 would prohibit 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 would also require people to be at least 20 feet away from buildings while smoking. Tobacco-less e-cigarettes would be included in the ban.
Violators could be fined $50, and bars that still allow smoking could be subject to having their liquor license revoked.
The measure was placed on the ballot by a group called Smoke-Free North Dakota, which collected more than 20,000 signatures for a petition earlier this summer.
Chelsey Matter, chairwoman of Smoke-Free North Dakota, said studies have shown that similar bans in surrounding states have lead to improved health conditions.
“It’s really about saving lives,” she said. “We know that we can make an impact on people’s lives with this.”
Opponents of Measure 4 argued that the decision to prohibit smoking should be up to individual establishments, and that the ban went too far in its requirements for public signage and outdoor smoking.
Eleven cities in North Dakota have already enacted similar smoking bans.