The smoking ban legal battle could be decided as early as next Tuesday. Smoking ban opponents filed a lawsuit calling for a judge to decide whether rejected petition signatures should have been thrown out.
A hearing is set for Tuesday in Hughes County. That’s when a judge is expected to rule on several motions that were filed from both sides of the lawsuit. And because both sides are asking for a summary judgement, the judge could rule on the case that same day. For now, proponents and opponents of the smoking ban say they’ll wait and see.
Even though a decision could be made on Tuesday, the actual trial on the issue is scheduled for October 26 in Fort Pierre. It was originally was set for August 24 but was pushed back after the American Cancer Society requested that Judge Mark Barnett, a former Attorney General, not be part of the case.
Smoking ban supporters with the American Cancer Society say right now, it’s a waiting game they’ve grown used to.
“We’re holding up good. We’ve been waiting for 10,15 years, anyways,” Erik Gaikowski said.
Gaikowski says people are wondering what’s next for the ban, and the office has been busy fielding questions.
“There’s been a lot of questions. How are things going? How soon will things get implemented?” Gaikowski said.
Gaikowski says they’ve also had to explain to people that the legal battle isn’t done yet. In the meantime, they’re preparing educational information to be sent out if the judge rules in they’re favor. They’re also getting the word out about the benefits of going smoke-free even if the ban doesn’t go into effect.
“Quitting smoking, your gonna reduce your risk, for lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, all those things,” Gaikowski said.
Secretary of State Chris Nelson doesn’t believe the judge will make a ruling just yet; he says he expects the case will go to trial later this month.
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