Senate Votes To Ban Smoking In Most Stores
PIERRE -- A bill that would ban smoking in most South Dakota restaurants and other businesses won narrow approval Wednesday in the state Senate.
The 18-17 vote sends the measure to the House, but opponents said they plan to ask the Senate to reconsider the bill Thursday.
The state needs to protect nonsmokers in restaurants, public places and workplaces, said Sen. Mac McCracken, R-Rapid City, the bill's sponsor.
''This bill will protect the right of South Dakotans who do no smoke,'' McCracken said.
But opponents said the measure goes too far in interfering with the rights of business owners.
''This bill is huge in regard to its infringement on the individual rights and privileges that this country is all about,'' said Sen. Patricia de Hueck, R-Pierre.
SB118 would prohibit smoking in enclosed public places, work places and homes used for day-care operations.
Existing law bans smoking in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, public libraries, museums, theaters, schools, buses, jury rooms, elevators and day-care operations.
The bill would extend the smoking ban to restaurants, retail stores and other places of employment. The ban would not apply to motel rooms, gambling establishments, bars, restaurants with liquor licenses, and stores that primarily sell liquor or tobacco.
McCracken said research shows secondhand smoke is a health hazard that is linked to lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. The bill is needed to protect the rights of the 80 percent of South Dakotans who do not smoke, he said.
The current system is inadequate because smoke drifts from the smoking area of a restaurant into the no-smoking area, McCracken said.
But Sen. Garry Moore, D-Yankton, said the measure would increase government interference into private business.
''Do we enter into an era of socialism and then communism?'' Moore said. ''We're here to preserve the freedom of our constituents.''
Moore said businesses should be allowed to make smoking decisions based on the wishes of their customers and employees.
Under questioning by Moore, McCracken said restaurants with liquor licenses could allow smoking while those without liquor licenses would have to ban smoking.
Sen. Fred Whiting, R-Rapid City, said he generally supports freedom against government control, but the state has a right to protect people's health. Smoke is a hazard both to smokers and those who inhale it secondhand, he said.
Sen. John McIntyre, D-Sioux Falls, said he had no idea how much his smoking bothered others until he quit smoking 13 years ago.