When voters created North Dakota’s tobacco prevention fund back in 2008 they may not have realized that the fund, and the board managing it, could use their revenues for lobbying and political activism, up to and including pushing initiated measures. Now we’re living with the consequences of that decision. With the full force of the tobacco board’s funding behind the campaign, the state passed a measure last year to implement a statewide smoking ban.
Unfortunately, that ban is now having a serious impact on business owners. They may not be much we can do about the ban driving customers away from businesses which cater to the tobacco trade (such as the cigar bar owner I interviewed earlier this week, but Rep. Blair Thoreson is asking that the tobacco prevention committee use its budget to compensate business owners for the expenses associated with implementing the ban up to and including the cost of new signage.
From the bill, which is HB1253:
The owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of a public place or place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this Act may submit receipts to the executive committee of the tobacco prevention and control advisory committee for reimbursement of actual costs incurred by the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of the public place or place of employment in complying with the signage and enforcement requirements of subsection 1.
The costs associated with implementation are not insignificant. Signs, policy changes, etc. all cost money. If we’re going to saddle business owners with these sort of ridiculous, unnecessary regulations the least we could do is ask that the anti-tobacco gestapo defray the expenses for them.
And if they have less money to push their ridiculous anti-smoking crusade, all the better.