South Dakota’s statewide smoking ban has now made its way to a courtroom. Both sides of the issue gathered Tuesday in Hughes County where they heard from a judge for the first time.
The statewide smoking ban has been a red hot issue since state lawmakers passed the law seven months ago. One of the decisions made Tuesday by the judge is that the American Cancer Society can join the case. The organization argues that the smoking ban should be in effect now and not put to a vote because of the immediate health benefits.
“I think it is important we get back to that threshold issue of, did the legislature intend this to go into effect? Should this go into effect because of the public health preservation?” Jennifer Stalley of the American Cancer Society said.
Both sides also worked out how many petition signatures the smoking ban opponents are short of in order to refer the issue to a public vote. Larry Mann now says his cause is just 54 signatures short, and he’s confident the court could review and approve enough to send the issue to the ballot box.
“We think so. Obviously, our opponents don’t. But it’s one of those complicated issues not knowing how a judge will rule,” Mann said.
The trial date has now been moved back to mid-November, and after Tuesday’s motions hearing, both sides are still confident the law is on their side.
“We’re prepared to make a strong case that we’ve got a lot of signatures that ought to be included in that count,” Mann said.
“I think we’re confident South Dakota will eventually become free from cigarettes discount smoking. We just are working to make that happen sooner rather than later,” Stalley said.
If the smoking ban does go up for a public vote, it would likely happen in November of 2010.
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