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New smoke-free ban clears the air statewide

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opinion Fargo,North Dakota 58102 http://www.westfargopioneer.com/sites/all/themes/westfargopioneer_theme/images/social_default_image.png
West Fargo Pioneer
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New smoke-free ban clears the air statewide
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

Tomorrow will be a monumental day as North Dakota's new smoke-free law takes effect, after two-thirds of North Dakotans voted in the general election Nov. 6 in support, making all public places smoke free.

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The law, initiated by an independent grassroots organization -- Smoke-Free North Dakota -- now protects people from exposure to secondhand smoke in all enclosed public places and places of employment, including restaurants, bars, truck stops, guest rooms and common areas within hotels and motels, health care facilities, long-term and assisted living centers, and licensed adult day care facilities. In addition, smoking is also prohibited within 20 feet of entrances, exits, operable windows, air intakes and ventilation systems attached to enclosed public places and places of employment. The use of electronic cigarettes is also prohibited in areas where smoking is not allowed.

In July of 2008 both the cities of West Fargo and Fargo adopted smoking bans meeting with favorable response. So much so, shortly after, a survey of adults in the two communities revealed that more than three-quarters of respondents, 76.6 percent, favored the new smoke-free ordinances.

The end result was that bar owners didn't suffer to the much hyped expectations (only a little bit at first) before rebounding with a passel of new clientele they had seen before; as well as retaining their former client list, who were now more than willing to go outside for their occasional smoke.

The best part will be no more need for the hype about projected drops in customers and therefore, revenue, because all businesses in the area aren't on a level playing. Now everybody in the state is truly on a level playing field and that can only be a win-win for everybody -- a great attribute ensuring workplace comfort and safety as well as drawing new revenue thanks to those individuals now willing to enjoy smoke-free food and beverage services.

For businesses wondering how they need to proceed, the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy (the Center) and its local public health partners will be providing educational resources to the public and businesses to assist with the transition into the smoke-free law. Resource information will be available at www.breathend.com and your local public health unit.

"This is a giant step forward in protecting all people from secondhand smoke," said Jeanne Prom, executive director of the Center. "Smoke-free workplaces benefit everyone and also save lives and money."

A concise rundown of the law appears adjacent. For more information, contact the Center for Tobacco Prevention & Control Policy at 1.877.277.5090 or info@breathend.com.

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