South Dakota petition delays indoor-smoking ban
South Dakota: Opponents of an expanded smoking ban extended have collected enough signatures to temporarily block its implementation and put the issue to a vote next November. South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson said that of the roughly 25,000 signatures handed in, 5 percent were randomly sampled to assure they were legitimate. Based on the review, 18,320 signatures were certified, clearing them of the 16,776 signature requirement to get on the ballot. The measure, which was to have taken effect on July 1, extends a 2002 smoking ban in public places and workplaces to bars, casinos, and video lottery establishments.
Despite the official review, supporters of the ban are not satisfied. Jennifer Stalley, South Dakota government relations director for the American Cancer Society and a proponent of the ban, said a group is making copies of the initiative to ensure each and every signature is valid. Allen Nord, who is chairman of the South Dakota Tobacco Free Kids Network and is working on further signature verification, made it clear that this isn't indicative of any mistrust directed towards the secretary of state or the organizers of this petition: "Because...polls show the vast majority of South Dakota voters want to go smoke free, a possible 16 month delay requires careful consideration. We fully respect our opponents' right to use the referendum process and hope they respect our right to use that same process to its fullest by ensuring the signatures gathered are valid."
The possibility of some sort of compromise, however, is not done with. Larry Mann, coordinator of the initiative petition, said he might consider less extreme possibilities than simply allowing people to smoke. One would be to separate a restaurant and bar-lounge with an actual wall. Despite this slim hope of reconciliation, both sides made clear that they're prepared to transition into campaign mode quickly and have people vote on it.