August 28, 2010 - City commissioners on Tuesday, August 24th banned smoking in all pubs, smoke houses and truck stops with a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Mike Seminary opposed the new law on the grounds it impacted people’s right to choose.
The controversy drew 225 spectators to the Civic Center Exhibit Hall. Two very polarized sides of the audience were each given 30 minutes to testify. The medical community came out in full force in favor of the smoking ban as did several spokespeople of the Bismarck Tobacco Free Coalition.
Dr. Steven Hamar, a Mid Dakota Clinic physician and surgeon, said some 100 studies have been done about secondhand smoke. “They all show that secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer, other cancers, heart attacks and respiratory illnesses ... pulmonary diseases and asthma,” he said.
He quoted U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona’s findings from 2006 saying, “Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance anymore, but a serious health threat that causes premature death and diseases in children and non-smoking adults. ... There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke.”
K.C. Chatwood of Health PRO presented 3,500 signatures from residents who favor the smoking ban. The group consists of respiratory care students and others from the University of Mary.
Ami Heuer, president of the Bismarck Tobacco Free Coalition, said the group has been doing a heavy education campaign against second-hand smoke in bars since the city banned smoking in restaurants five years ago. She said the commission introduced the proposal.
References: Bismarck City Commission OKs smoking ordinance by LEANN ECKROTH, Bismarck Tribune, 8/24/2010; Bismarck proposes smoking ban for bars by LEANN ECKRO, BismarckTribune.com, 8/11/2010.