A smoke free South Dakota?


Dan Roberts And Kristine YoungReporter and News Editor

On Nov. 2 South Dakota residents will have the chance to use their constitutional right to vote. Signs have been posted, commercials have been running and information pamphlets have been mailed, but all of that will soon come to an end.

In 2002 South Dakota voted to ban smoking in enclosed workplaces with the Clean Indoor Air Act, but the bill excluded bars, restaurants with liquor licenses, casino gaming floors, liquor stores, hotel rooms and tobacco retail stores. This year, voters will vote on Referred Law 12, which will completely ban smoking inside public establishments.

“It’s very important and will have a strong impact on many of our lives,” said John Huber, president of the South Dakota State Medical Association.

Seth Johnson, a senior animal science major, opposes Referred Law 12 and said the bill is another way for government to infringe on our daily lives and that the government has no right to step in.

“If you choose to go to a bar you have to accept the fact that you are surrounding yourself with people that will be smoking,” Johnson said.

While Johnson argues Referred Law 12 will hurt business for establishments that allow smoking, Catey Watkins, a senior mass communications major and bartender at Sully’s Irish Pub, disagrees.

“Many of our customers are regulars that will come here, regardless of the smoking ban,” Watkins said. “Other bars like Jim’s Tap and Skinners might be a little more smoker-friendly because they already have outdoor patios, but I feel we will be just fine.” Watkins said.

Michelle Oswald, a senior political science and Spanish major, thinks Referred Law 12 is a good thing and banning smoking completely should have been done a long time ago.

“I like the idea that it protects people who don’t want to be in a smoke-filled environment,” Oswald said. “Smokers still have the option to go outside.”

In the last few years some of South Dakota’s neighbors have gone completely smokeless. Nebraska passed the Clean Indoor Air Act in February of 2008, while Minnesota passed the Freedom to Breathe Act in October 2007.

Huber is confidant people will vote yes on Referred Law 12.

“This ban has begun to spread to many states, and although I feel it will pass, it’s just a matter of time before [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] steps in and makes it a federal law,” Huber said.