The business owners think the $25 fine imposed by the new state smoking ban isn't harsh enough to deter some hardcore devotees of tobacco freedom. They want the city of Yankton to pass an ordinance that would impose additional fines or revoke the offending business's liquor license.
The city declined, saying it already has rules that allow it to deny liquor licenses to folks who engage in naughty behavior, including violation of state law. That makes sense to me: I'm all about not passing additional rules when existing rules can do the job.
I am a little disappointed, though, with Yankton City Attorney Dave Hosmer's lack of enthusiasm for enforcing state law:
City Attorney Dave Hosmer told the commission he has provided some advice to police in regard to enforcing the statute, alluding to the confusion that may exist as to whether such an establishment can allow smoking.
“If they are caught smoking in an establishment, and the officer can establish that the person was actually smoking, they will get a ticket,” he said. “If the person says, ‘I’m standing in an establishment which is exempt because it is a tobacco place or a cigar bar,’ I’ve instructed law enforcement that they should prepare a report and give it to the state’s attorney, who will then decide whether or not to issue a ticket.
“I don’t think that we should take the fault for a poorly drafted statute,” Hosmer added. “I think the State of South Dakota needs some better interpretation” [Nathan Johnson, "Smoking Ban Rules Questioned," Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2010.11.23].
"Poorly drafted"? Actually, SDCL 34-46-13 through 34-46-19 look pretty darn clear to this layperson. No smoking inside public places. Clear definition of exemption for cigar shops and tobacco shops. Attorney Hosmer is welcome to not like the statute, but he's hard-pressed to demonstrate any poor drafting in the text. Instead of pretending the ban is complicated and defanging the local enforcement by providing lawbreaking bar owners with a pre-fab excuse, Attorney Hosmer and the city should provide the Yankton police with a list (surely a brief one) of establishments that meet criteria of the smoking ban exemptions and authorize them to do their duty on the spot.