Don't forget that once the Republicans get their house in order on Tuesday, we'll also have some yummy ballot measures to debate and vote on in November. Among them is Referred Law 12, the indoor smoking ban, which has been delayed for a year and a half since its passage by the Legislature.
The alcohol and tobacco lobby that referred this law to public vote may have bought their moneyed interests another year and a half to make more money on unhealthy consumption, but every day we wait for the vote appears to reduce the number of people who might oppose this law. The South Dakota Department of Health reports that the percentage of South Dakotans smoking dropped over two full percentage points in one year, from 19.8% in 2007 to 17.5% in 2008. The South Dakota QuitLine is also getting better at helping people kick the habit: DoH reports QuitLine's success rate over the same period jumped from 29% to 43%.
DoH cites CDC figures estimating reduced smoking has spared our state over 1800 early tobacco-related deaths and will produce health care cost savings of at least $325 million through 2018... and that's at current cost and smoking levels. DoH is still pushing: having met their 2010 goal of reducing smokers to 18% of the population, they now want to cut further to 15% by 2015.
Let's help them out: vote for the smoking ban in November.
Bonus Notes for Primary Voters! GOP House candidate R. Blake Curd voted for the smoking ban in 2009. His challenger Kristi Noem voted against it. His other challenger, Secretary of State Chris Nelson, simply followed the law and rejected the apparently improper signatures on the referral petitions.
In the governor's race, Senate leaders Dave Knudson of the GOP and Scott Heidepriem of the Dems both voted aye to ban indoor smoking. GOP candidate Dennis Daugaard's boss signed it into law, and I haven't heard Dennis say he had a problem with that. GOPer Scott Munsterman thought the ban was a good idea when the Legislature passed it. Senator Gordon Howie joined local Senator Russ Olson in keeping the world safe for Big Macs... then quickly got back to dodging his property taxes. Ken Knuppe probably doesn't like the smoking ban, but heck, he's a rancher, so he's outside all the time!
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