Scott Hennen, Tioga
Of all the questions we decide on Election Day, the proposed statewide smoking ban is the most ill-conceived yet philosophically important of all.
Of course there are the lost jobs (Ohio's smoking ban cost 5,400), and the additional burden on police. Also the fact that this silly law would ban tobacco-less e-cigarettes smokers use to quit. But my biggest concern is the total nanny state assault on personal freedom, property rights and local control.
I don't smoke. So, as far as I'm concerned, we can either ban cigarettes and other tobacco products or not. But this water torture approach to limiting personal choice to smoke borders on harassment.
Where did we get this crazy idea that government has the right to tell property owners what can and can't be used on their property? Obviously we understand laws against crimes like murder, illegal drug use and prostitution. But this is about tobacco, a legal product, used on private property.
Then there's the issue of local control. Several communities including Fargo/West Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Devils Lake used local referenda to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. Though I opposed those efforts as an assault on freedom and property rights, at least local citizens were the deciders. This statewide smoking ban is an aggressive effort to assert state supremacy over local governments. Where does it stop?
For example, let's say Fargo decides to enact a local sand mining moratorium. Does that become a state precedent to regulate the Bakken?
There's also the left-wing agenda in this equation. Remember, this mess all began with a tobacco settlement engineered by Heidi Heitkamp as Attorney General. Now "smoking police" money is funding her U.S. Senate candidacy. In fact, her biggest contributor is the Motley Rice law firm including attorney Jack McConnell, who she appointed North Dakota legal counsel in tobacco-related class action suits. He's making millions from that favor.
In fact, Heitkamp wrote the language that allows North Dakota to raid the water trust fund if they don't make enough progress with anti-smoking campaigns. Meanwhile, after millions spent on anti-smoking campaigns, tobacco sales are up in North Dakota.
Let's be frank. This smoking ban is really part of the much broader left wing agenda to stomp on personal liberties, curtail property rights and impose state mandates on local communities.
So, on Nov. 6, vote yes to freedom, property rights and local control by voting no on Measure 4.