South Dakota Referred Law 12 on 2010 Ballot

Back in 2002, South Dakota implemented a ban on smoking in most public places. Now, Referred Law 12 seeks to expand that ban to all the other public places that didn’t get covered last time.

Some see this as a public health issue–saying that we must pass this law to preserve us from ourselves. I do not see it that way. I do see this a matter of curtailing freedoms more than anything else. As citizens we often engage in behaviors which might be dangerous to ourselves as long as we do not endanger others or other’s property. You might say that we are free to choose.

We ought to be careful to give more power to government in this regard. While many will say that this is something good (banning smoking in more areas) and as such we should not be concerned, we are setting a precedent that allows the government to step further into our lives than was previously the case. Would you be in favor of this law if it outlawed the eating of cheeseburgers in public, or perhaps the drinking of non-diet sodas? After all, some communities are looking at things such as fat and corn syrup as so evil that people must be prevented from having them by government fiat.

I do not smoke. I believe that smoking is a waste of good money and good lungs. Nonetheless, I believe that retail establishments which wish to allow smoking on premises should continue to do so. At the same time I believe that those who would smoke should be individually responsible for covering the additional health care costs which their lifestyles necessitate. Insurance companies would be wise to set premiums for smokers at such a level as to ensure that this is the case–instead of sharing the risk across the entire pool of citizens. I believe that such an action would allow the market to properly price smoking at such a high point that many would forgo it for financial reasons.

That aside, let us not double down on the poor decision made in 2002.

Vote “No” on Referred Law 12.

10 thoughts on “South Dakota Referred Law 12 on 2010 Ballot

  1. let me address a few points: first of all I too am a non-smoker and i live with a smoker.
    1) this is a matter of health. I have more of a right to breath air than the smoker has of taking that right to life away from me by means of cancer-causing smoke. It is a fact that 2nd hand smoke is worse. Smoke once it is no longer in the air creates 3rd hand smoke: smoke that clings to the surfaces, clothing on or around the smoker. In the privacy of his own car or home, fine. In public where it will effect others: it is no longer a right, when it becomes a health hazard to others! just like drinking and driving. you cannot drink when on public roads: it endangers everyone around you–and the drinker him/herself.
    2) You cant tell people what to eat, but you can hold the companies responsible for bringing healthy foods to the people. There is much money to be made in the food industry. But how much more are people spending when on one hand they eat “crap” and then have to turn around and go to the doctor for eating the “crap”, like too much fats, sugar, and preservatives. In that sense, the government does have a responsibility to protect the citizens, but it is not the government’s business to tell people what they can/cant eat. Inform them so they can make better choices. Too often people eat junk because it is cheaper (at the moment). What people dont take into consideration is the junk they eat, much of which either causes illness or aggravates an illness already present. I.e.: fats in potato chips can cause gall stones, too much salt can bring on or aggravate high blood pressure, sugar can bring on or worsen diabetes. If the government would tell the food companies, especially the healthy food producers to lower their prices to make them affordable and raise the prices of junk foods, 1) people could eat better, 2) they would be healthier, 3) the costs of health care would drop drastically. Prevention is always cheaper than the cure.
    Lastly, I do agree that smokers should pay the bulk of the insurance, which many companies already do. and in some cases they cant be insured at all. There are actually more smokers per capita than non-smokers.

    1. Stop,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I shall respond in order:

      1) If you believe your health to be in danger, then you have the right to change your own environment, whether the risk is smoking, an abusive spouse, an onrushing automobile or anything else. However, it is not an established fact, but theory, that 2nd hand smoke is worse. One of the most comprehensive studies looked at more than 100,000 people over an almost 40-year period and found weak to non-existent correlation between 2nd hand smoke and increased risk for spouses (
      2) “Hold[ing] companies responsible” is getting things the wrong way round. Control of one’s food intake is a personal responsibility. In my experience, people do not eat junk food because it is cheaper–it is not ($5 for an 11oz bag of potato chips, for example). Rather, they do so because they like it more than non-junk food. Prevention is cheaper than the cure, but many do not care about healthy eating since they shift the cost of the cure to the taxpayers. Once again, people should be responsible for their own health care costs–directly and individually. Having the government “tell the food companies, especially the healthy food producers to lower their prices to make them affordable and raise the prices of junk foods” is absolutely wrong. When government tries to control prices, we all suffer.
      3) The most recent numbers show that 1/5 of the US adult population smokes ( I do not understand how this can equate to “more smokers per capita than non-smokers.”

  2. FYI…I am a smoker & YES I do pay a higher premium because of it & I have never complained doing so either. Those that claim all smokers pay the same in premiums are either obsfucating the truth of are just completely ignorant because they have not done the research.

    1. Linda,

      Thank you for your thoughts (and for offsetting your own health risks). Yes, some smokers do already pay higher health insurance premiums based on their status as smokers. They tend to be those who have individually procured health insurance.

      However, for those smokers who are included in employee-provided health insurance policies–as has been the case with several companies for whom I have worked–the smokers and non-smokers paid precisely the same premium. The premium paid by the company/employees is determined by the insurance company with the idea that 20% (or whatever it is) of the covered employees will be smokers. In this manner, the non-smokers are paying for known risk which they do not have.

  3. I feel this is a matter of personal responsibility, if you do not want to be exposed to second hand smoke, then do not go into the places that allow smoking, plain and simple. I am a non smoker who likes to go out to the bar with friends on occasion and the smoke doesn’t bother me, if it did, I wouldn’t go. The thing that bothers me most about this issue is the fact that the main people who are backing this are those who make products to help those who want to quit smoking.(Johnson and Johnson for example)
    My personal story is that growing up both my parents smoked, my late wife smoked (the smoking did not take her life, a drunk driver did) and my current lady smokes also. My mother has been smoking for over 50 years and she is as healthy as I am, so please tell me again the risks of second hand smoke. In the research that i have done, I have found as many studies debunking the health risks as those touting them.
    Vote NO on 12, I will be!!!!!

    1. Rodney,

      There is indeed something to be said for personal responsibility in this matter. If we focused more on that than on government protecting us from ourselves, we would be better off.

      I don’t know that the main backers are the smoking cessationist companies, but it would be in their interest–much as it is in the bars’ interest for smoking to continue.

  4. The 2 things that disturb me the most about the “smoking ban” are the redefinition of property rights to include public accommodations as “public property” and the acceptance that government has legitimate power to FORCE you to do “what’s good for you”. It infantilizes adult citizens and uses government force to restrict legal behavior in the marketplace. Now eat your broccoli or go to jail…

    1. William,

      Well said. If private property isn’t private, then what is? If freedom does not include the freedom to make poor choices, then how is it freedom?

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