Health advocacy groups encourage city leaders to prioritize health, well-being of Mandan residents, visitors by voting down cigar bar ordinance

Health advocacy groups encourage city leaders to prioritize health, well-being of Mandan residents, visitors by voting down cigar bar ordinance

MANDAN, N.D., Sept. 13, 2023 — The City of Mandan should uphold the state of North Dakota’s vision to make North Dakota the healthiest state in the nation by keeping cigar bars out of our community and follow the will of the voters who approved our state’s clean indoor law more than a decade ago.

This year, 4,370 state residents will be diagnosed with cancer and thousands more will be diagnosed with heart disease and stroke. Sadly, these diseases are the top killers in our state and caused more than 3,000 deaths in 2022. Cigar Lounges will lead to diminished health quality and a potential uptick in health care costs for all. There is no safe level of second-hand smoke, and studies have repeatedly shown there is no ventilation system capable of filtering out all smoke particles, exposing anyone who shares walls with a cigar lounge to dangerous secondhand smoke. Allowing cigar bars in our community would be a step backwards for the health of Mandan residents. Secondhand smoke from cigars poses significant health risks to people who smoke and those around them.

“We owe it to our youth and all our citizens to place public health concerns first,” said Greg Gallagher, a Mandan resident and American Heart Association volunteer. “Cigar bars offer limited and highly questionable value to our community. It should be rejected outright.”

Every county in the state voted in favor of the North Dakota Clean Indoor Air Law in 2012 and it remains a solid foundation for quality of life in Mandan and across the state. Since enacted in 2012, North Dakota has seen decreases in the percentage of residents who smoke and new cancer cases, according to Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health. In addition, the current smoke-free law treats everyone equally and is consistent and fair. Nobody should have to choose between a job and long-term health, which is clearly put at greater risk with any exposure to carcinogens and other harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Everyone has the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air, regardless of where they live, work, or play.

“Reintroducing tobacco use into public places, like cigar lounges, will increase the exposure to secondhand smoke, increase the number of people using tobacco and potentially raise the number of local people who develop long term health issues from tobacco,” said Joyce Sayler, a Mandan resident and retired nurse.

Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the U.S., and smoking is now linked to at least 15 types of cancers. In fact, 27 percent of cancer deaths in North Dakota are attributed to smoking. It is also a leading risk factor for the development of heart disease and stroke. Cigars are bad for your health whether consumed directly or exposed through second-hand smoke. According to the American Thoracic Society, smoking one large cigar can be the same as smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.

Beyond the public health concerns, there is no proven economic benefit from cigar bars:

  • Smoke-filled environments have been proven to have a negative impact. Absenteeism, loss of productivity, increased maintenance and insurance costs negatively affect bottom lines.
  • A smoke-filled cigar bar will not improve tourism. As noted by J.D. Power and Associates, 87 percent of guests prefer a smoke-free hospitality environment.
  • Very few cigar bars pay living wages. The average wage for a cigar bar employee is $24,000. Poverty wages for a family of four in ND is around $27,750.
  • Healthcare costs related to smoking in ND are $326 million and costs the tax-payer an average of $916 per household in smoking-caused state and federal expenditures.

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TFND joined this release in partnership with American Cancer Society – Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.