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News: North Dakota Passes Smoking Ban, Missouri Rejects Tobacco Tax

7 Nov 2012

Yesterday, voters in North Dakota and Missouri decided on ballot questions that will impact cigar rights in those states. While Missouri voters rejected the anti-tobacco “Prop B,” voters in North Dakota approved Measure 4.

North Dakota’s Measure 4, a statewide smoking ban to criminalize indoor smoking in virtually all “public” places including cigar shops, overwhelmingly passed 66% to 34%. The law calls for violators of the restrictive ban to be fined $50, and for a bar proprietor who allowed smoking in spite of the ban to have his or her liquor and tobacco sales licenses revoked. Arguments made by cigar smokers and the hospitality industry that the blanket smoking ban would infringe on property rights, harm small businesses, and unfairly restrict personal choices to smoke were not enough to overcome intense lobbying by anti-tobacco groups.

Prop. B in Missouri would have increased the state tax on cigars by 15% if passed, but the move appears to have failed by a slim margin. The latest numbers show “no” with 50.8% and “yes” with 40.2%, with a 42,000 vote difference out of nearly 2.7 million votes cast.

Any revenue from the tax increase was to be earmarked in equal proportions for education and smoking cessation programs, but critics point out that politicians regularly and easily raid such funds, so there was no guarantee of any net funding increase in the designated areas. Further, some people cautioned that raising the tobacco tax would just drive cigarette sales to neighboring states, and presumably would drive cigar sales to online retailers.

It’s not clear if the margin of defeat for Proposition B is enough to avoid a lengthy recount process. In early June voters in California narrowly rejected a 73% tobacco tax increase but, due to an extended recount and certification process, the result wasn’t finalized until a little over a month ago.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

7 Responses to “News: North Dakota Passes Smoking Ban, Missouri Rejects Tobacco Tax”

  1. Bobby Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Wow. A smoking ban for inside cigar shops. Who is that protecting? What is the purpose?

  2. BK123 Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    I wouldn't have thought North Dakota would have been a big Nanny state prior to this. One less reason to ever visit I guess.

  3. Ron Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    This serves no purpose applying the ban on cigar shops as these are not general public shopping areas. What is wrong with the gov't in N.D.?

  4. Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Eeek, what will happen to the lounges?

  5. Mike Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    The cigar lounges will become nice seating areas. This was approved by voters; North Dakota's lawmakers rejected passing such a strict ban for years. The anti-smoking lobby — which no longer accepts smoking in any public areas — took as strict a ban as possible to the voters. And 80% of people in North Dakota don't smoke.

    No statewide smoking ban vote has failed since Florida enacted its ban in 2003 — and it has more exemptions than you would ever see today on the ballot.

  6. Ross Monday, November 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    I can't believe this went through. Where I live in ND we are lucky enough to have one bar/lounge attached to a smoke shop. Without this luxury of smoking indoors, I can't imagine what is going to happen to this establishment. And I can't exactly get away with smoking inside, at home.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. News: What’s Up with North Dakota? | The Stogie Guys - Monday, November 19, 2012

    […] was stunned when I learned about North Dakota voting for an extremely restrictive smoking ban. I lived for a couple of years in the Great Plains, and it isn’t the area I think […]