Banning Smoking In Homes Is Next


On election day North Dakotans has a terrible bit of policy in the form of the Measure 4 smoking ban. It’s a confusing bit of policy for business owners who are now, according to public officials interpreting the law, responsible for policing smoking within 20 feet of any door or drive-up window on their establishment. This would include, it seems, people smoking in their cars in the drive-through lane at banks, pharmacies and fast-food restaurants.

The punishment for being caught with smokers too near your business is a fine and, according to the law, “the suspension or revocation of any permit or license issued to the person for the premises on which the violation occurred.”

Meaning that a bank or a pharmacy which has customers smoking in their cars in the drive-through lane could lose their license to operate.

There are other more absurd provisions of the law (all work vehicles must now have “no smoking” signs visible from outside the vehicle), but it all goes to show just how much inertia there is behind the prohibitionists who are pushing the anti-smoking agenda. And their next step? Banning smoking at home, with fire hazard no doubt being the argument in favor as WDAY host Jay Thomas notes:

I can’t vouch for Thomas’ assertion that there have been 40 deck fires due to smoking, but supposing it’s true (and I’m guessing it is), that’s a problem. And probably an unintended consequence of the anti-smoking crusade pushing so many smokers outside.

But make no doubt that the ultimate goal in all of this is the total prohibition of tobacco. They’re doing it by degrees, one ban and one tax at a time, but the goal here is to make it so that Americans aren’t allowed to choose to use tobacco.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • whowon

    What would the government do without all the taxes? Yep, coming soon, complete behavioral control, libs love it.

    • flamemeister

      Every time I hear that the U.S. is headed toward European Socialism I laugh. European Socialism—at least up until fairly recent times—has generally laid off from regulating personal behavior. European Socialism also rests on a centuries-old tradition of statism and has a 2,000-year-old cultural tradition of ubiquitous art, music, and architecture that is readily available to the public (Islam is poised to screw that up). We have a comparatively low-level of high culture, and that little is not easily accessible to most of the country.

      Even Russia has more personal freedom than here. No, we are headed for having one of the most intrusive governments the world has ever seen. We will long for traditional European Socialism.

  • Game

    First off, let’s be honest, nobody is going to enforce the no-smoking in drive-throughs. By the time anybody could complain, the smoker would be long gone.

    The issue with the apartments is an interesting one that I would hope would be solved by the private sector. When I was in property management, we did not allow people to smoke on our decks or by the doors. The deck was part of the building and building was smoke free. Beyond the fire issue, it is also a litter issue and smoke tended to end up in the apartments.

    • flamemeister

      Video surveillance could handle the problem. Smoking & license plate recorded. Too stupid? Nothing is too stupid anymore. Americans generally feel quite comfortable with stupid.

    • Flyby_Knight

      When you make laws that people aren’t going to enforce or respect, you teach the public disrespect for the law in general.

      • yy4u2

        Adding to that, how does the public not disrespect the highest seat in the land for not doing the same thing time and time again with executive orders?

  • DWHoover

    As a former smoker, I voted no on 4. It is taking away choices for businesses. My business, a hotel, fought hard against the measure. We allow smoking in one wing only. It is closed off by fire doors and is in a separate part of the hotel. The way the law is written, if someone smokes in a room that was formerly smoking (and as of today, is still smoking), then the business is responsible. Now the question is this. Are we as a business supposed to patrol the hallways to make sure no one smokes? Or, how would law enforcement know which room someone is smoking in? If I catch someone smoking, am I immediately to call 911? It is ludicrous.

  • zipity

    Next up, an initiated statewide measure allowing “either the stoning of or beating with sticks anyone seen in public smoking tobacco.”

    The backers will note how lenient the measure is, since it does not allow firearms to be used.


    • two_amber_lamps

      And who says the left is somehow exempt the title of the party of Nazism? Their every policy endgame seems totalitarian control over the issue in question. I give the little fascists credit, they certainly play the “long game” better than we do (ie. incrementalism).

  • Mike Peterson

    We need to send letters to liberal newspapers explaining how prohibition doesn’t work. It’s also disappointing how they’re still pouncing on conservatives in the Op-Eds, when they don’t know the full story of what happened.

  • Conservative_Egghead

    What’s so funny about this is that the anti-smoking zealots don’t really want a total ban, since then they wouldn’t have access to the dedicated tax revenue that comes from tobacco sales. In the 2001 session, Mike Grosz, who was a House rep from Grand Forks, introduced a bill to ban the sale of tobacco (he didn’t believe that it should be banned, but he was trying to make a point: if it’s as dangerous as the “public health” people say, then make it illegal). Lobbyists for Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds officially took “no position” on the bill; all of the (loud) opposition came from the anti-smoking activists and public health “advocates”. What a bunch of hypocrites.

    • tony_o2

      You can’t outlaw smoking. Where would they get the tax revenue to pay for S-CHIP?

  • Gabriel J Benton

    Time for a lawsuit on 4. Big time violation of personal property rights.

    • headward

      I agree but aren’t we just renting the property from the government?

  • sick of idiots

    Jay Thomas you are by your own admission under-educated, you do not have basic understanding of economics, finance, the Constitution & the government. I wish you would not post drivel promoting your under performing talk show, I said talk show not educated show. Jay you and the under-educated masses is what is wrong with America today. Get educated – read, ask questions, think outside the box.

  • Rick Olson

    As much as many people don’t like it, Measure #4 is now the law of the land in North Dakota. The smoke free message has been getting pounded and pounded and pounded some more into the people’s heads for years.

    I did vote for Measure #4 and I am an ex-smoker (quit going on 10 years ago). The parts of the initiative that I think are going to be largely unenforceable are how businesses will be expected to regulate people smoking in their cars within 20 feet of a drive through window (be it a bank, a pharmacy, drive-through restaurant or wherever).

    The no smoking within 20 feet of an entrance to a building seems pretty self explanatory. Where I work, our company policy forbids smoking within 100 feet of an entryway (but it’s largely unenforced).

    We have all the naysayers who say businesses will be forced to shut down as a result of this law. They won’t have to close down if they do what is needed in order to comply with the law. They won’t have to close down if they adapt their business models to the changes.

    It should be noted that an initiated measure cannot either be changed or repealed by the Legislature for a seven year period after its passage and enactment into law. However, there is nothing to prevent a subsequent initiated measure to change this law within that same seven year period.

    There will be ample opportunity for another group to mount another initiative campaign on this subject to address the matters you have been discussing here.

    I do agree that it was a bit extreme to put language into the initiative which threatens the licenses of an establishment which has people smoking in their cars in the drive through lane.

    The question which arises here is how will this new law be enforced? I don’t see law enforcement going out of its way to enforce this. There aren’t enough hours in the day, nor manpower or resources for law enforcement to chase down each and every infraction.

    • DWHoover

      As long as North Dakota doesn’t go the Omaha, Nebraska model – if you see someone smoking, call 911.

      • Rick Olson

        Well, Omaha for the lack of a better definition is pretty much a big Fargo. Omaha, of course, sees its share of big city crimes; while here in Fargo, we live in relative safety. The people in Nebraska are by and large just about the same as we are up here.

        However, for people to call 911 to report a smoking infraction — and that’s all it is — an infraction or the most a petty misdemeanor; certainly ties up needed resources that must be available for someone to report a real emergency. In most states, North Dakota included, a person who makes a 911 call is responsible for their actions.

        If it turns out they placed a call to report something that is not an emergency, they can be issued a citation and be prosecuted for it. Though it is rarely enforced. Of course, this is dependent upon the particular circumstances. Let’s say, if someone were to call about something that wound up delaying proper resources from being dispatched for a real emergency, of course someone in that sort of a scenario would be dealt with much more severely.

    • yy4u2

      It will be used, Rick, much like the seat belt law is by law enforcement. It gives them another tool to say, “well, I thought I saw…” I never have been a smoker and quit going to those environments/businesses because of it. That’s how I voted, by using my feet. It is unfortunate that this and other central planning ideas passed and voters like you made it happen.

    • Flyby_Knight

      When you make laws that people aren’t going to enforce or respect, you teach the public disrespect for the law in general.

      • Rob

        That was one of the major lessons of alcohol prohibition. I taught people to be scofflaws.

        The military has a saying about this. Never issue an order you know won’t be obeyed.

        • Rick Olson

          So, what you’re saying is that you think some establishments will continue to allow smoking inside their establishments, in open defiance of the ban? Civil disobedience, as it were, just to open the doors to the possibility of a lawsuit and a court declaring the ban unconstitutional?

    • tony_o2

      Why did you vote for Measure 4? Why did you feel that it was necessary for the government to ban smoking in privately owned bars? Defend your position.

      I voted NO because I don’t believe that a legal product should be outlawed in a private establishment. Children cannot enter bars, therefore their parents cannot force them to be there. Employees can work somewhere else, they are not forced to work in bars. Patrons can drink somewhere else, they are not forced to socialize in bars. Nobody is forced to step foot in a bar. So why do the people have a legitimate right (vote) to prohibit a legal activity in a private establishment?

      • Rick Olson

        I voted for it, becautse I knew the issue was going to pass. There really was no way that the measure was going to be defeated. I realize this is going to put some private business owners into a bind as far as being able to comply with the law goes, but they will find a way.

        I know that tobacco for now at least is still a legal product. No one really has questioned that.

        Unfortunately, your side of the debate simply will never win the day on this one. The evidence is indisputable. In every state that this has been on the ballot, it’s passed overwhelmingly.

        • tony_o2

          I voted for it, becautse I knew the issue was going to pass. There really was no way that the measure was going to be defeated.

          You voted for it because you didn’t want to be on the losing side? That’s a sorry excuse to vote.

          • Rick Olson

            Not necessarily. Again, I knew the issue was going to pass. What would have one more no vote have done? Absolutely nothing.

            If the bar owners adapt their business models to the law, they will do just fine. Those that either don’t want to or refuse to adjust their business models will be the ones that will be in trouble.

          • tony_o2

            Of course it still would have passed without your vote. But why did you vote “yes” instead of “no” or not voting on it at all?

            If you thought that the government has no business banning smoking in private establishments, you would have voted no. So why do you believe that the government has the authority to ban smoking in private establishments?

          • Rick Olson

            Contrary to popular belief, I did my own studying of this issue. I have firsthand information from a bar owner who happens to be my brother in law.

            He owns one of the bars in the rural Traill County community of Hatton, N.D. Hatton has two drinking establishments. His and the lounge down the street. Both establishments voluntarily went smoke free about two years ago and their business wasn’t really impacted at all.

            My brother in law’s business is his sole means of support and he seems to be doing just fine. in fact, my brother in law was hoping for the day that the state would finally act.

            Since the Legislature so bullheadedly refused to do so, the people took the matter into their own hands,. Here in Fargo, our bars have been smoke free for years and they all seem to be doing just fine.

            To answer your question, I based my yes vote on the fact that this law exists in one form or another in the vast majority of the United States. Including states in which tobacco is a major cash crop.

            As early as 2009, some 30 states had indoor workplace smoking bans in place. That trend is only expected to grow. South Dakota added the list of states with complete indoor smoking bans to include bars, casinos and restaurants in 2010; when voters upheld a comprehensive ban that was enacted by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, and that act was put up on a referendum … in the November 2010 general election, voters upheld the legislation and the ban accordingly went into effect.

          • tony_o2

            I’m fine with bar owners that voluntarily go smoke free. It’s their business and they are free to cater to their non-smoking customers. But how does that justify forcing other bar owners to adopt a smoke-free policy that they do not want?

            The argument against smoking bans does not hinge around whether or not they can stay in business. It’s not about money, it’s about personal choice. The owners should have the personal choice to adopt their own smoking policy, and the patrons have their own personal choice whether or not to go to these bars.

            In Dickinson, there are 2 smoke free bars that I know of. I don’t go to them, because I choose to go to bars that allow me to smoke. I have friends that don’t smoke, and they choose to go to the smoke free bars. We already have choices. Nobody is forced into anything.

            I based my yes vote on the fact that this law exists in one form or another in the vast majority of the United States.

            Why does it matter what the other States are doing? If all the other States jump off the fiscal cliff…..

          • tony_o2

            You still didn’t answer my question. “So why do you believe that the government has the authority to ban smoking in private establishments?”

            I’m not asking whether or not they have the legal authority to do so. I’m asking for a reason why you allow them the authority.

          • Rick Olson

            Well, until now you hadn’t identified yourself as a smoker. That helps me understand your question from your perspective. Of course, as a smoker, you’re naturally going to side with being against such indoor smoking bans.

            I’ve felt that concerns over public health and safety are an overriding factor. What gives you the right to endanger someone else’s life with the byproduct of your habit (secondhand smoke)?

            To answer your question that the government does have the right to ban smoking in private establishments, because said establishments are licensed by at least one, if not several, government entities.

            To wit: Liquor license issued by the local governing body. Tobacco license issued by the attorney general’s office. Gaming license issued by the attorney general’s office. Shall I continue? In other words, bars and lounges are licensed by both local and state governments. Therefore, the government has the right and the responsibility to regulate these places within the guidelines provided for in law.

          • tony_o2

            So you believe that if a business needs a particular license to operate, then the government should be able to dictate aspects of their business that have nothing to do with the license they need? What does smoking policy have to do with serving alcohol? What does smoking policy have to do with gambling?

            By your standards, the government has the authority to dictate any aspect of any business that requires a license for anything. Need a license to use a particular chemical at your manufacturing plant? Then you’re going to have to empty your vending machines of junk food…..

          • Rick Olson

            Whether we like it or not, that’s the way the ball bounces. It sounds to me that if you really are passionate about this issue, then you will probably want to look into launching another initiated measure campaign designed to undo what the voters did back on Nov. 6th.

            Under the separation of powers clause in the state constitution, an initiated measure cannot be either repealed or amended by the Legislature for a period of seven years from the date that a measure is adopted and enacted into state statutes. The election was held on Nov. 6th, and the law requires that an approved initiated measure become law 30 days thereafter.

            A word of advice…getting the signatures is one thing. It’s entirely another to get the people of North Dakota to vote in favor of your initiative. It will take at least a million dollars in order to wage a credible campaign in this state. Do you have that kind of ca-ching personally available? If you don’t you’ll have to raise funds.

            Meanwhile, I am through debating this issue with you. The law is what it is until such time as proper authority says otherwise. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree and it certainly we have reached that point here.

          • tony_o2

            I realize that I am fighting a losing battle. If I had the money, I wouldn’t waste it on an initiated measure campaign to persuade the people to overturn this law. I would buy my own buildings and start a members only club. There would be no liquor license required (byob) and we could smoke while we hung out.

            Of course I would probably face some opposition from the smoking nazis, but maybe then I could expose their agenda to the voting public. It’s not about the public being “forced” to breathe second hand smoke, it’s about dictating the behavior (using a legal product) of private citizens in private establishments.

          • Rick Olson

            You have made some good points. Unfortunately, you are indeed fighting an uphill battle. You should pursue your members only club idea. Unfortunately, the measure which becomes law on Dec. 6th eliminates virtually all indoor workplace smoking. I believe one of the exceptions was for private offices in which there are no other workers. I would have to read the language of the measure again to be sure. I don’t come down on the side that smokers don’t have rights. I believe they do have rights. However, I think the overriding concern in this entire debate has been exposure to secondhand smoke. Public health and safety concerns will always win out in the debate over this subject. I wish you all the best in your pursuit of your private members only club idea.

  • Rick Olson

    However, a quick comment on “Banning smoking in homes is next.”

    The rash of deck fires that we’ve seen in the area here in Fargo-West Fargo over the last few months have all been caused by plain old fashioned stupidity. Nearly all of those fires were caused by smoking materials being left unattended when the smoker thought they were completely put out.

    Some people think that putting out a cigarette in a flower pot does the trick. It doesn’t! The potting soil that is used is not the same as dirt. Potting soil does not extinguish an open flame. Accordingly, potting soil does not extinguish a cigarette.

    I guess the question before the group is this: How can the state ban smoking in your own home? Particularly in a single family dwelling? Suppose they tried. I would predict it would be near to impossible to enforce.

    Some multiple family dwellings (apartment buildings, condominium complexes) that have common inside areas already forbid smoking in those areas. In my building that includes no smoking in the entryways, hallways or in the laundry room. Places that are deemed common areas.

  • Game

    I would like to add this to the conversation, the problems with the provisions of the law that has been passed is exactly why I dislike initiated measures in North Dakota. It is one thing when we are talking about a constitutional amendment, which has already undergone a legislative process, but for passing laws, it is often abused. It is obvious that the public supports an indoor smoking ban. That cause is lost for the pro-smoking crowd. However, I am guessing most of these provisions are not.
    The Legislature should have responded to the obvious public support to this issue and passed an indoor smoking ban and it never should have went to a vote. However, they didn’t, and now we get a law that was not properly debated in the by the legislative process.
    The same almost happed with the Animal Rights measure, shared parenting and with the property tax issue. These issues that in general most people would agree with, however, the measures that were put forward were flawed. Luckily, we dodged a bullet with those three, however, with smoking, that was not the case.
    When are elected officials don’t vote for issues we like, we need to vote for somebody who does. Instead, we keep voting the bozo’s back into office and then at the same time, vote for laws they have not supported.

    • Rob

      Good points.

      There was a reason our founders were fond of direct democracy.

    • sbark

      ……and if they had, do ya’ think the left would have beat them over the head in this last election with howls of facism and restriction of freedoms……….
      We see it at every level…….the left just runs with a Alsinky tactic whichever route a GOP politician ends up taking……if he does X—-they howl Z, if he did Z…….they howl X., Just as if GW had done nothing after 9-11, the left would have ridden his arse for 8 years on how weak spined he was.

  • spud

    This is more bs from Rob. Gun sales have skyrocked since Obama won election in 2008 yet no gun legislation has ever even come up for a vote to limit them. This is what the citizens in this country want. When the massive majority of voter s are for this why cry over this. The idea that this will fly what Rob is saying is ludicris. Rob why don’t you try writing a blog about how the conservative media deliberately lied to there voting base that Romney was going to win the election. Dick toe sucker Morris has admitted to it and Hannity’s ratings have suffered because of it telling his viewers of massive landslide coming. You should also. Better yet tell the voters the frauds that Gallup and Rasputin are. When they tell ya Minnesota and Oregon are in play you have to be a moron. Then again I was only wrong on measure 5 because I hold small view of intelligence of electorate. Remember that bragging you did on KTHI poll and ten point lead for Berg. Smoking issue has been decided. Please do not embarrass your self on this smoking thing anymore because in this state you will alway’s be on losing end of this issue. Nobody is going to eliminate what you do in your privacy of your home when it pertains to smoking.

  • tony_o2

    Many years ago when they banned smoking in restaurants and workplaces, they said “don’t worry, we’ll let you smoke in bars.” Now that they banned smoking in bars, they say “don’t worry, we’ll let you smoke in your home.” Can we really believe these prohibitionists?

    If you don’t want to be around smoke, don’t go to an establishment that allows smoking. It’s very simple.

  • fredlave

    Banning smoking in homes is not as far-fetched as it sounds. In Britain, a smoker with an asthmatic child can be arrested for child abuse if there’s smoking in the house. I suspect this can happen in the U.S. as well .

  • philipgray

    Jay Thomas is a stupid announcer…..devoid of any principles….he is just a radio shock host..
    Taking anything he says seriously is allowing discussion…what does it matter….
    He is always calling for new laws on issues in some small part of his mind matters.
    He takes time to ridicule anyone who cares about issues that he does not care about..
    Jay Thomas’s in the world are like cotton candy….empty after eating the first bite….
    Not much credence in what he says

  • philipgray

    Jay Thomas is a joke….but with our “educated” electoriate.. I would not be surprised some new laws will be adopted while idiots out there keep voting socialist…We deserved the government and the Thomases in the world. ….we created them through our public education system…

  • Bob Johnson

    ND is a couple of years behind California, where the bans started.

  • Flamejob5

    Our public education system sure is doing a knock-out job spreading fascism all across the land these days. If they had enlightened the last few generations about actual Freedom, people today would shrug more often at all the negative statistics shoved in their face from every direction 24/7 that targets whatever the current nationailst “cause” which stands in the way of achieving their unnattainable, altruistic puppy dog & rainbow society.

    The question we should be asking ourselves whenever you or i begin hearing another campaign focused & targeted upon some human activity is… what actually constitutes a real, honest, legitimate problem? (problem being an actual violation upon another individuals’ liberty) …liberty being a two-way street of tolerance & non-aggression.

    In using this most recent self-inflicted loss of yet another right (drenched in Patriot’s blood) as an example, is the human action at question simply a trifling nuisance (i.e. ~ chalked-up as intolerance) to an ever-increasing emotional few who somehow feel (or have been informed how to feel) their personal rights are being violated (and whom also proclaim to “feel” for others) and thus decide to organize? …or is it a genuine epidemic which truly does directly & negatively affect the persuit of an individual’s (or group of individuals) liberty?

    What constitutes the degree of personal violation? The current guage used today springing forth from our whimsical, unstable, highly emotional current state of society where even looking at somebody wrong may get one sued, or, looking back just a few decades when our grandparents were battling a Great Depression AND a drought. If they weren’t puffing away on one themselves, i’m betting someone else’s cigarrete smoke was the last fucking thing on their mind.

    So with that said, Is the claim truly life-threatening or even an action considered as being a legitimate threat/violation when measured up against other everyday human activities going on all around us daily? …such as operating/riding in any form of transportation on earth, climbing a ladder, handgliding, changing a spare tire, throwing any ball/object of any sorts, lifting anything, running on uneven ground or walking on ice.

    Sitting in a chair for eight hrs. day?

    Why, any of this human behaviour may in fact negatively affect how much you pay for you & your families individual insurance premium if an accident should somehow occur, therefore negatively affecting your personal liberty. (accidents being a 100% normal human activity)

    With this fascist mentality in mind, isn’t virtually ANY human activity somehow an assault on another’s liberty? I mean, i could literally run around all day accusing anybody performing almost any human activity as being somehow unnecessary towards survival and linked to being a personal assault..

    People in a truly Free society recognize accidents as being normal activity and also tolerates the personal values of others at a reasonable amount as possible. This is required in order for humanity to progress. Danger, along with failure, is a requirment. Zero-tolerance is indeed a fascist position and has no place in American culture, yet it’s become national policy almost everywhere in society.

  • Rick Olson

    However, to answer your question, I just don’t see any scenario under which smoking will ever be banned in people’s private homes. To do that and you might as well ban tobacco outright, just like what prohibition attempted to do with alcoholic beverages. It didn’t work and it wound up getting repealed. Tobacco will never be banned outright, because it is a major cash crop in a number of U.S. states.

  • ballsrdragging

    All this talk about soft enforcement if any, over the 20ft rule, stinks. Enforce all provisions of the Act. Do not pick and choose. It’s all in or fold. If you attack bars only, then the bars should get a lawyer. I will visit our police chief and demand full enforcement on all fronts. BTW-voted No, so this is meant to be entertaining, yet make u think.

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