Bismarck, N.D. – Today the North Dakota Senate voted 23 to 24 in opposition to a bill that would have exempted cigar lounges and bars that sell cigars from the statewide smoke-free law. The North Dakota smoke-free law protects workers and patrons from potential death and disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Roughly 1,000 adults die each year in the state as a result of tobacco use.
A statement from Kendra Krueger, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) grassroots manager in North Dakota follows:
“Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the U.S. Additionally, smoking increases a person’s risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Amid this pandemic, when standing up for public health is of the utmost priority, particularly respiratory health, we thank our senators for having stopped efforts to infringe upon North Dakotans’ right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.
“No one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck. Smoke-free laws exist to protect patrons and workers from exposure to secondhand smoke. North Dakotans understand that there’s no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and in 2012 voted overwhelmingly in favor of passing one of the strongest smoke-free laws in the country. Opening the door to expand exemptions undermines the will of the people and is simply bad policy that could prove fatal.
“Smoke-free laws denormalize tobacco use, which results in a reduced number of people – especially youth – who start smoking and increases quitting by those who smoke. Lower smoking rates lead to improved health, including fewer cancers. ACS CAN volunteers remain committed to continue working with legislators to pave the way for laws that help prevent cancer cases and deaths.”