September 2, 2010 - Background: South Dakota - smoking ban passed by legislature still must go to a statewide vote.. on November 2, 2010.
Though early numbers may look good for November passage of the smoke-free referendum, Yes on 12 proponents aren’t taking any chances. “We’re going to fight as if we’re one point behind,” said Dr. Allen Nord, chairman of the South Dakota Tobacco Free Kids Network.
Nord and former president of the South Dakota Medical Association Dr. Cynthia Weaver kicked off the Yes on 12 Campaign at Rapid City Regional Hospital on Tuesday, August 31st.
The campaign will include door-to-door voter outreach, town hall meetings and an interactive website at www.smokefreesd.com.
The law would prohibit workplace smoking in all businesses, including bars, restaurants, casinos and video lottery establishments. It passed in the 2009 South Dakota Legislature, but opponents sent the issue to a referendum.
In the past, opponents of the law have argued that it infringes on personal freedoms and will harm businesses. Nord said such claims are unfounded. Research in California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, New York, Florida, Maryland and Kentucky showed that smoke-free ordinances had no negative effect on bar sales, he said. A series of studies of sales tax data from 81 locations in six states shows that smoke-free policies have not had a negative effect on restaurant revenues.
At the same time, researchers have proven that secondhand smoke is dangerous, Nord said. The World Health Organization found that there is “no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke,” he said. “The evidence is overwhelming.” (former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, MD, told reporters: "There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure.." The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, June 27, 2006..)
As a physician, Nord said he cares for patients every day who are suffering from smoke-related illnesses. South Dakota taxpayers pay $58 million a year in Medicaid payments for tobacco-related health care costs, he said. Nord said he wants all workers in South Dakota to have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment.
“We believe that everyone deserves to have smoke-free air,” he said. “What it’s really about is the health of workers in South Dakota.”
Phone calls to the Citizens for Individual Freedom, the organization that opposes the tobacco ban, were not returned Tuesday, August 31st.
Reference: Smoking ban campaign begins in Rapid City, Lynn Taylor Rick (email@example.com), Rapid City Journal, 8/31/2010.
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