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Is Kenmare ready to go smoke-free?

Napoleon has done it. So has Pembina. Medora is considering it. So is Kenmare ready to become one of the first small communities in North Dakota to enact a smoke-free workplace ordinance?

4/13/11 (Wed)


Napoleon has done it.


So has Pembina.


Medora is considering it.


So is Kenmare ready to become one of the first small communities in North Dakota to enact a smoke-free workplace ordinance?


Holly Brekhus, Tobacco Prevention Community Outreach Coordinator for First District Health Unit who was born and raised in Kenmare, would like to know what local residents think about the idea.


“We have had people inquire at our office about why there is smoking in some businesses in Kenmare,” she said. “Basically, it’s because those businesses are bars. Our public health nurse up there, Melissa Burud, has had input from community members who would like to see all the businesses go smoke-free.”


The prohibition of smoking in all workplaces and public places is one goal of the North Dakota Comprehensive State Plan to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use, as developed by the ND Tobacco Prevention and Control Advisory Committee.


The North Dakota state legislature banned smoking in most public places in 2005, with a few exceptions including bars, certain rooms in truck stops, and designated smoking rooms in motels and other lodging places.


Health problems and costs related to smoking and secondhand smoke continue to be a concern nationwide and across the state. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control released 2009 data that suggest 92,700 adults in North Dakota (18.6 percent) smoke, with 42,000 of the state’s children exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes.


The CDC also tallied the annual health care costs in North Dakota directly caused by smoking at $247 million. The state’s Medicaid program covers $47 million of that annual expense, with $567 per household needed each year to pay the state and federal tax burden for smoking-caused government expenditures.


In North Dakota, an emphasis is being made eliminate smoking in all indoor workplaces. “Whether we go city by city or through a statewide effort,” Brekhus added.


Is Kenmare ready to go smoke-free?


Residents asked

to complete Kenmare survey

Citizens of Kenmare can make their opinions known in two ways.


First, FDHU is offering a survey specific to Kenmare that residents ages 18 and older can take online. Starting today through April 28th, individuals can access the survey at to answer questions about their own tobacco use and their views about tobacco use by others in public places throughout the community and the state. The survey, which is completed anonymously, also asks a few demographics questions related to each person’s age, gender, education, etc.


A direct link to the survey can be found on the Kenmare website home page at and the First District Health Unit website at under “Hot Topics.”


“This is a community assessment,” said Brekhus. “The purpose is to find out how the community as a whole feels about a smoke-free workplace policy.”


She continued, “We have done a similar survey in McLean, McHenry and Bottineau counties and one in Ward County in years past, but this one is specific to Kenmare.”


She noted the survey is designed to be answered one time from any given computer. “We will also have paper surveys available, so if there’s a husband and wife, or more than one person in the household, who wants to complete it they can do so,” she said.


Paper copies of the survey will be available during the April 13-27 survey period at the Kenmare Branch Library, The Kenmare News office and the FDHU office in Kenmare.


Brekhus said the results of the survey would be made available to the public later in the spring. “We use the results to educate the community about how people feel about tobacco issues,” she said.


Meeting on April 19

to talk about

smoke-free Kenmare

Local residents can take more direct action to reduce tobacco use in the community by attending a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 19th, at the Pizza Hub beginning at 12 noon. “Anybody who wants to help move a smoke-free policy forward in the community is welcome to come,” said Brekhus.


Brekhus, Burud and Burke County Public Health Nurse Stacy Schoemer will facilitate the meeting.


Brekhus and her colleagues at FDHU will not lobby a particular city council or county commission for a smoke-free workplace ordinance. “These issues have to be community-driven,” she said. “Our role is to assist and help with finding more information about a particular policy.”


She can offer education to individuals, councils or boards, sharing research about the problems and health effects of secondhand smoke. She can also provide examples of ways other communities have chosen to go smoke-free and ordinances that have been successfully adopted, along with data showing how businesses have been impacted by smoke-free policies in those places.


Several of the state’s largest cities have already enacted smoke-free workplace policies, including Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks and Devils Lake, with Bismarck scheduled to vote on the issue April 19th.


Within FDHU’s service area, the STAMP tobacco prevention coalition is currently working on a smoke-free workplace proposal for the Minot area. Bottineau County residents have been surveyed, much like Kenmare residents will be during the next two weeks.


Brekhus noted that implementation of smoke-free workplace ordinances has been a cost-effective strategy for reducing tobacco-related health problems. “Research has shown this is one of the most inexpensive things we can do to decrease the risk of disease and death from tobacco use,” she said.


People with further questions about the meeting, the survey or smoke-free policies in general are welcome to contact Kenmare FDHU public health nurse Melissa Burud at 701-385-4328 or Brekhus at 701-852-1376.


“We encourage people to become involved,” Brekhus said. “Most people understand the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and that it’s important to protect people’s health. This is about making Kenmare a safer community, but it would impact the whole tobacco epidemic in our state.”