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By Caroline Downs
Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition members heard the good news at a July 10th meeting that a drive to include an initiated measure on the November ballot to prohibit smoking in all public places across the state was making great strides.
As of the meeting date, over 9,000 signatures had been collected on the petitions required for the ballot measure. “If our goal is 18,000 signatures, we’re a little over halfway,” said Holly Brekhus, community outreach coordinator for First District Health Unit Tobacco Prevention.
FDHU has set a goal of 2,361 signatures gathered region-wide by a July 30th deadline. Kenmare Coalition members volunteered at Pioneer Day and the Association of Commerce Customer Appreciation event to collect signatures from persons interested in voting on the measure.
Melissa Burud said she heard many positive comments from smokers and non-smokers alike when she worked at the Coalition’s table during Pioneer Day. “Some of the smokers said, ‘Maybe this will help me quit,’ or just that this was a good thing to have happen,” she said. “One of the new city council members signed and then encouraged the coalition to return to the council with our request to pass a local ordinance.”
Some Kenmare Coalition members will also participate in the North Dakota State Fair parade on Saturday, July 21st, following the FDHU entry and walking the route to collect more signatures.
“Everybody, keep up the good work,” Brekhus said. “We’re doing great on the numbers.”
The Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition announced plans to attend the next regular Kenmare City Council meeting planned for August 13th. Brekhus suggested members of the group should review the Coalition’s activities in the community and responses from residents, as documented in surveys, letters of support and other materials.
Brekhus said she would like to discuss the proposed smoke-free measure and what the law would cover if approved by voters in November. She was especially concerned about any questions the council might have about language in the measure related to outdoor public places, such as public building entry ways.
“That’s probably going to impact businesses more than the indoor smoking prohibitions,” she said.
The Coalition will also encourage the council once again to pass a smoke-free ordinance covering all public buildings and places of business in Kenmare, without waiting for the outcome of the statewide ballot measure.
The city of Lisbon took a similar step on July 2nd, when the council voted to adopt a comprehensive ordinance that makes all public places and workplaces, including bars, smoke-free. Lisbon is the ninth city in North Dakota to pass such an ordinance. The ordinance will take effect September 1, 2012.
Also, a smoke-free ordinance unanimously approved by the Cavalier City Council in May went into effect July 1st for all public places and workplaces in that community.
The next meeting of the Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition will be held Tuesday, August 7th, at South of the Border, beginning at 12 noon. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Information about the Kenmare Tobacco Free Coalition is posted online at www.tobaccofreeKenmare.com. Persons who are interested in the Coalition’s activities are welcome to contact Pauline Nielsen at 701-385-4907 or Barb Scherbenske at 701-385-4412.