Fargo approves total smoking banFARGO — Supporters of a comprehensive smoking ban found victory in Fargo on Tuesday and now plan to take their campaign to the rest of North Dakota.
By: Andrea Domaskin, The Forum
FARGO — Supporters of a comprehensive smoking ban found victory in Fargo on Tuesday and now plan to take their campaign to the rest of North Dakota.
In complete but unofficial results, Measure 2 earned support from 61 percent of voters. It had 9,658 votes.
The measure will enact a comprehensive smoking ban. It includes bars, truck stops and rental halls, taking the city’s current smoking ban up a notch.
It takes effect July 1.
Byrum Cartwright, chairman of the Smoke-free Air for Everyone Coalition, said he was sure the measure would win, though he didn’t know whether it would be by a hair or a landslide.
He said coalition members now hope to build momentum for the state Legislature to make the statewide smoking ban stricter. They will start with other cities.
“We’re certainly going to be supporting other cities as this issue comes up,” Cartwright said.
The complete ban easily beat a competing ban that would have kept the city’s current restrictions in place.
Measure 3 would have made exceptions for enclosed bars that prohibit patrons under the age of 21, designated areas of truck stops and J.T. Cigarro Tobacco Bar.
About 43 percent of voters supported the measure. It had 6,698 votes in complete but unofficial results.
Fargo businessman Randy Thorson, who led the charge to place the measure on the ballot, said he and other bar owners are OK with the results.
“We believe we have rights as business owners, but we also believe that the voters have a right,” he said.
But Thorson also said he believes some bars may close because of the complete smoking ban and proceeds from charitable gaming could drop.
Both bans needed a simple majority to pass. City Attorney Erik Johnson has said if both measures passed, the measure with the most yes votes would win.
That wasn’t necessary in this case, with only Measure 2 receiving more than 50 percent approval.
The vote Tuesday was aimed at settling a smoking debate that bubbled up again last summer as city commissioners considered turning a ban voters approved in 2004 into a comprehensive ordinance that would make no exceptions for bars.
City commissioners delayed final approval of a complete smoking ban in September when a group announced plans to collect petitions to place the no-exceptions ban on the ballot. It became Measure 2.
In response, bar owners and others in the alcohol industry worked to place Measure 3, the existing smoking ban, on the ballot.
Both sides poured thousands of dollars into the campaigns for the measures.
The election results mean that Fargo will now match Moorhead, where a statewide smoking ban took effect in October.
The Minnesota ban makes no exceptions for bars.
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