Should Business Owners Be Reimbursed For Cost Of Complying With The New Smoking Ban?


Last week I wrote about a bill introduced by Rep. Blair Thoreson which would allow business owners to submit to the state’s tobacco prevention board receipts for the expense of putting up smoking warnings and other costs associated with complying with the newly-passed smoking ban.

Today the legislation was heard before the House Human Services Committee, and there was some very interesting testimony.

“The cost to comply…is astronomical,” said Tom Balzer of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association who noted that the signs have to be put up not just at every entrance to a business, but also in every vehicle used by employees of a given business.

Rudie Martinson of the North Dakota Hospitality Association also pointed out in his testimony before the committee that requiring the tobacco prevention board to cover the costs of these regulation might deter them from foisting needless requirement changes on business on a routine basis. “We set a policy on this, and we all spend money to come into compliance with it, and then two years later the policy changes,” he said. He also said that his organization wants the public to know there have been some “significant and repeated costs” associated with complying with these policies.

He’s right. Already under this law businesses can lose their licenses to operate if people are found to be smoking on or near their premises in contradiction to the law. It seems the least we can do is use some of the state’s share of the national tobacco class action lawsuits (which is how the tobacco prevention board is funded) to compensate the businesses for making these changes.

That it would also drain a big chunk of the board’s budget for pursuing further stupid policy changes through lobbying and initiated measures is just a cherry on top.

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.

Related posts

  • Clairvoyant

    no, of course not-unless you like taxes

    • Rob

      We’re not talking about tax revenues.

      • Clairvoyant

        See, that’s the problem. We need to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. If bars have to pay for this nonsense, then we will pay for it, somehow. There’s no free lunch, :-)

  • Opinion8ted

    They can take it of that big tobacco lawsuit that Heidi brags about. How about any fines assessed and paid by tobacco deviants go to reimbursing business owners who are forced into a nanny existence. Hey let me know when, due to the busybodies at the anti tobacco coalition, all this money starts rolling into state coffers because no one is exposed to second smoke and dying from lung cancer. Let me know when that happens okay

    • Bob Johnson

      Illinois has been waiting for five years.

  • schreib

    What we need is legislation protecting smokers rights by allowing smoking clubs for members only–and not open to the public

    • headward

      I even find this kind of odd. I see signs up that say they reserve the right to refuse service to anybody. This statement would be good enough to limit it to customers therefore it is not a public place. A public place would be a park or side walk. I only have to be a citizen to enter those zones.

      • schreib

        I know, and I agree with what you said. But we sure do live in a different universe .

    • borborygmi

      This is a great Idea

      • Rob

        We had that before. We had smoking bars and nonsmoking bars and people could decide where they want to go.

        Now smokers don’t have z choice,

  • Randy G

    Reimburse the business’s and send the bill to Heitkamp’s breath ND bunch.

    • Rob

      That’s exactly what this would be.

  • Jeff

    “The cost to comply is astronomical”. I have a hard time believing this. Seriously, how much can a few signs cost? A few hundred bucks? Businesses have to deal with changes all the time. I say just deal with it.

    • Rob

      Signs? Enforcement? Policy changes for employees?

      It adds up.

    • Thresherman

      If is so small of an amount, why don’t you volunteer to cover the cost for some business. Or is it a small amount only if you are not the one footing the bill? Put your money where your mouth is.

  • borborygmi

    Compensation, sure if you want to compensate every business owner who thinks they suffered or suffered for every law written.. Can of worms

  • borborygmi

    Printing of signage hmmmm maybe a couple of bucks a sign. including ink paper and laminate. I don’t agree with the ban but claiming signage is a big cost ….only if you make it a big cost.

  • spud

    These are legitimate expenses one should be able to write off tax wise. When epa forced me to make changes to my fuel tanks in the guise of environmental protection in case of soil being exposed to pollutants I wrote this off. All business owner’s are forced to comply with things that piss us off but you do it or get out of business. By complying you should be able to write these expenses off as they are legitimate expenses in your business.

  • Lianne

    I would think that the anti-smoking coalition would be more than happy to pay for signs to further their passion. Or at lest hand write them… One of them did say simple handwritten signs would suffice.

  • WOOF

    You Must Wash Your Hands After Commenting

    Print the above comment and display it near your keyboard.
    Brought to you by the Dept of Mental Health,
    OCD Division

  • Prefer to remain anonymous

    Blair Thoreson is a very good friend of mine, but it should be noted that Rep. Blair Thoreson is a part-owner of the drinking establishments here in the Fargo-West Fargo area. He’s in a partnership which owns the Three Lyons Pub in West Fargo. I have to wonder if the legislation which Thoreson sponsored amounts to a conflict of interest, under the circumstances? I’m not at all against the bar owners seeking fair compensation for their out of pocket expenses in order to comply with the will of the people with the initiated measure that was just passed, however, I do have to wonder that since Blair has a personal and obviously vested interest in this issue, that he should not have been the one to sponsor the bill.

  • thinkingbrain

    I saw a good one today on Smoking. At the drive thru window at my band a sign now reads: No smoking within 20 feet of this drive thru window by state law.
    They have now found a way for you to be a criminal for smoking in your own car. The damn smoking nazis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PS: I don’t smoke, but it is a legal product and the nazis should be gone.

    • thinkingbrain

      bank not band, I don’t know how to edit my post. Sorry.

  • Waski_the_Squirrel

    The smoking ban is bad law. It is not government’s role to protect us from the consequences of bad law, even a law the public voted into place. If people feel the sting of a bad law, they are a lot less likely to vote for such laws in the future. Bad laws should be removed, not hidden behind yet more laws.

  • opinion8ed

    I remember back 10 or 15 years when the Busyodies had everyone erecting theses little huts everywhere to hide the smokers and the truckstop in Minot was forced to build a glass cage where you could walk by and stare at all the little smokers puffing away in the see through cage like monkeys in the zoo. You could not smell the smoke, just see it,and the people legally enjoying their right to tobacco. The Busyybodies did not like that so they began whining again because this is what do best. They do not like smoke so they try to ban it, but it funds children’s healthcare and they get tons of money to handout to groups to promote smoke free areas like high school proms, graduation parties and the like. Cigarettes are banned from high schools anyway so why waste the money, Brainwashing from a young age. Cigarette smoking has declined 10 fold in the last 50 years so ask yourself where is all that money we were going to save by getting rid of cigarettes? Where are the cost savings? Which hospitals are overflowing with cash thanks to the Busybodies? The Busybodies have more work to do, seat belts, guns, beef, and soft drinks… But not an alcohol ban despite the havoc it creates because they need to drink it to put up with themselves, as a matter of fact, they put out literature telling us how healthy wine is for us. It seems in their shallow little heads that they know what is better for us, than us!