Our community will be tobacco free.
The Bismarck Tobacco Free Coalition is a pro-active organization dedicated to promoting a healthy, tobacco free environment.
The Bismarck Tobacco Free Coalition was organized in 1992 and is funded by the Tobacco Prevention and Control Local Grants Program, and some community contributions. Utilizing a small but well-trained staff and diligent guidance from the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy and the North Dakota State Tobacco Prevention Program, the coalition has attempted to make a significant impact on tobacco use and marketing. The coalition continues to guard these outcomes and use them as a foundation from which to build further efforts.
The coalition has promoted change with tobacco marketing practices and the need for individuals to breathe smoke-free air through advocacy, policy change, and community mobilization. Since 1992, Bismarck has passed three ordinances which address the easy access of tobacco by minors and two ordinances for the protection of public health from secondhand smoke. The ordinances have the following provisions:
A. Restrict placement of tobacco vending machines
B. Restrict self-service displays of tobacco products
C. Provide for graduated penalties, including fines and license suspension/revocation for repeated illegal tobacco sales.
D. Regulate smoking in public places and places of employment.
From 2000 to 2005, community volunteers visited over 20 community organizations delivering education about secondhand smoke in the workplace setting. On October 11, 2005 the Bismarck City Commission passed a smoke free ordinance which enhanced the state smoke free law by extending smoke free regulation to outdoor patio areas of restaurants and removed the provision to build enclosed smoking areas in restaurant/bar establishments.
The Bismarck Tobacco Free Coalition continued to advocate for 100% smoke free workplace policies and on August 24, 2010 the Bismarck City Commission passed a comprehensive smokefree ordinance that extended smoke free provisions to bars, truck stops, hotel bars and banquet rooms.
In September 2010, bar owners approached the City Commission and requested to delay the November 1, 2010 enactment date and to add smoking shelters to the smoke free ordinance. On September 28th Smoking shelters were added to the ordinance but November 1, 2010 stayed as the enactment date.
Weeks later, local bar owners decided the newly passed ordinance should go to a vote of the people and gathered the required number of signatures to place the ordinance on a ballot to be referred.
The special election was held April 19, 2011. The election brought a record number of voters with close to 9000 Bismarck residents coming to the polls. Sixty percent of voters opted to keep the smoke free ordinance in place. Voters also rejected the idea of smoking shelters.
Bismarck voters laid the issue to rest, deciding once and for all that everyone, including bar workers and patrons, should be able to breathe clean indoor air. The ordinance has been in effect since April 27, 2011.
Dr. Susan Betting