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The Associated Press September 1, 2010, 8:40AM ET

SD smoking-ban proponents cite worker health

Supporters of an expanded smoking ban said Tuesday the proposed state measure will protect workers and reduce health care costs stemming from cancer, heart attacks and respiratory disease.

A state law in effect since 2002 bans smoking in most workplaces and public areas. The expanded measure, Referred Law 12 on the November ballot, would extend the ban to bars, video lottery establishments and Deadwood casinos.

Evidence shows a link between secondhand smoke and certain health problems, said Dr. Karla Murphy, president-elect of the South Dakota State Medical Association.

"This law is so important because of the people it affects -- people who may appear healthy now but years later will be in their doctor's office wheezing with emphysema, struggling with smoking-related heart disease or coping with lung cancer and all because of where they worked," Murphy said. Her comments came at a news conference to launch the campaign by the Yes on 12 coalition.

The opposing group, Citizens for Individual Freedom, is organizing its campaign to include advertising and mass mailings, said spokesman Don Rose.

He said opponents of Referred Law 12 believe it infringes on personal rights of property owners to run a business as they see fit.

"If it passes, what's next?" said Rose. "More gun control, more different things like that? We have to be careful about how we allow things like this to go through."

Rose said state revenue from video lottery also is threatened if people stay away because they can't smoke while they play the machines.

Yes on 12's campaign will incorporate an interactive website, social media, town hall meetings and advertising, said Jennifer Stalley, the group's treasurer.

"There is simply no good reason that people and workers of South Dakota should have to face an increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease, asthma or other chronic disease because of where they work," said Stalley, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society. "They should not have to choose between their health and a paycheck."

The 2009 Legislature passed the expanded smoking ban to take effect on July 1, 2009. Owners of bars and casinos submitted petition signatures to refer it to a vote, but the matter went to court after Secretary of State Chris Nelson ruled that enough signatures were invalid to keep it off the ballot.

After a lengthy legal battle, a judge last November cleared the way for it to be put on the ballot.

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