Smoked out: By Dec. 6, smoking banned in public places, worksitesThe vote is final and North Dakotans approved Measure 4, the ban on smoking in public places and worksites.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
The vote is final and North Dakotans approved Measure 4, the ban on smoking in public places and worksites.
A majority, 208,641, voted in favor of the measure with 104,359 opposed. That’s roughly two out of three voters in favor of the ban.
“This is a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) best practice measure that can help people and also helps with second-hand smoke and makes it healthy for all people in public places,” said Robin Iszler, unit administrator with Central Valley Health District. “So we certainly support that and it’s something we’ve been working towards.”
While the ban passed, it doesn’t go in effect until Dec. 6. That leaves time for businesses that allow smoking to make the necessary changes to be in compliance with the law.
Packets from Central Valley Health detailing information for businesses affected by the ban should arrive within a week.
In Jamestown, many downtown taverns allow smoking. The new law states shelters are allowed but must be located 20 feet from any entrance, exit, operable window, ventilation or air intake system, said Michelle Walker, Tobacco Program director for the North Dakota Department of Health.
No more than 33 percent of the shelter can be enclosed and smoke must not infiltrate to any nearby business through any doors or windows.
“I think that businesses can do that, but that certainly wasn’t the intent,” Iszler said of Measure 4.
However, owners, operators, managers, employers or other persons who control a public place or place of employment may seek to rebut the presumption that 20 feet is a reasonable minimum distance by applying to the local director of public health.
This might be the case for establishments in downtown Jamestown, where 20 feet from an entrance is within 20 feet of another downtown building entrance.
Nancy Thoen, director of Tobacco Prevention and Control at CVHD, said she doesn’t see many situations for waivers on the new law.
Two downtown bar owners are already worried what the initial impact could be on business.
“I think there’s going to be a tremendous impact,” said Tim Gilbertson, owner of the Wonder Bar Sports Bar. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
On the other corner of Second Street Southeast the feeling is the same.
“What can I do about it?” asked Sheldon Oviatt, Corner Bar owner. “Except b---- that this is America, and I should be able to run my business the way I see fit.”
The new law also includes hotels and motels, retail tobacco stores and truck stops.
“It does say the responsibility of proprietors should clearly and conspicuously post no smoking signs or the international no-smoking symbol in that place,” Walker said.
The fine for an individual who breaks the new law can’t exceed $50 per offense. For businesses the first violation will be $100, the second within a year will be $200 and after that $500 for each additional violation. Failure to comply could result in suspension or revocation of that establishment’s liquor license.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org