No smoking goes for cigars too

Mary Lentz

Minot STAMP Coalition

We represent a local tobacco prevention coalition, STAMP, from Minot. We would like to express our concern and opposition to Senate Bill 2137 which seeks to exempt “cigar bars” and “premium tobacco products” from the North Dakota smoke-free law.

In 2012, North Dakota voters strongly supported (by 67%) the passage of an indoor smoke-free law that protects our public and establishment workers. As a local tobacco prevention coalition, we were very active not just with public health, but with many passionate citizens from the Minot area who wished to see smoke-free public places.

Proponents of SB 2137 state that people who would frequent these establishments, “know what they are getting into” and that cigars, “do not have the same additives as cigarettes.” However, there is a misconception in society that cigars are “safer” or “more natural” products than cigarettes; that they do not have the same toxic chemicals.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states: “Cigars are NOT a safe alternative to cigarettes and cigar smoke is at least as toxic as cigarette smoke, if not more. Large cigars can deliver as much as 10 times the nicotine, two times the tar, and more than five times the carbon monoxide of a filtered cigarette”

If the proponents of this bill do not understand that these products are as harmful, if not more, than cigarettes, how can they reasonably expect their consumers to “know what they are getting in to?”

There have been initiatives around the state, and in Minot, to create supportive communities to help persons in recovery. Our local Committee on Addiction just announced its board members, and has been meeting to further community efforts. We want Minot to be seen as a leader in recovery, not in furthering addiction opportunities.

For the continued protection of our citizens, we ask our state legislators to vote against Senate Bill 2137.