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Minnesota’s Smoking Reduction Efforts Receive SD Praise

September 22, 2008

Pierre, SD – A recent Minnesota survey showing smokers are giving up the tobacco habit there at a faster pace than other states, is proof that smoking bans work to improve public health. That's the view of an alliance of organizations advocating for laws to ban smoking in all public places in South Dakota.

Jennifer Stalley with the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network credits Minnesota for using tobacco settlement money to launch a comprehensive battle on tobacco addiction. She says it's a shining example of what can be accomplished.

"What Minnesota did is, back in 1998 when the tobacco settlement money came in, dedicated a significant amount to tobacco prevention to stop the youth initiation. They also have been one of the states, along with South Dakota, to raise their tobacco tax tobacco significantly. Then, they recently went 'smoke-free' as a state. Those three things, in combination, are the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use in a state."

Stalley believes South Dakota residents also want a smoke-free state, and can learn from Minnesota's experience.

"Not only for the quality of life that it brings, so that nonsmokers who are walking into places aren't exposed to secondhand smoke, but so that all of our workers are protected. There's a huge gap in South Dakota right now between the white-collar worker, who is walking into an office space that's smoke-free, and essentially our blue-collar workers in our hospitality industry, who have been left to suffer the effects of secondhand smoke - because they're not protected by the current law."

South Dakota legislative efforts to extend the smoking ban to bars and restaurants has met with resistance from some lawmakers, who fear such a ban could hurt businesses. Stalley argues that communities should have an opportunity to decide for themselves if they want to extend the smoking ban.

David Law/Steve Powers, Public News Service - SD