Smokers Cost Employers Nearly $6,000 More Annually: Study

Smokers may feel the ultimate toll of their addiction, but its their bosses who are footing the bill in the meantime, according to a new study.
Employees who smoke cost the typical U.S. company an average of $5,816 more a year than non-smokers, according to research released Monday from Ohio State University. The researchers note that the annual cost of employing a smoker can reach up to $10,125, but also fall as low as $2,885.
Although nearly half of large companies have instituted wellness programs for employees, a majority of them are centered around factors like weight, cholesterol and blood pressure, rather than smoking. Micah Berman, the report’s lead author and an expert on health policy and management, told The Huffington Post that the lack of focus on nicotine consumption is a mistake, but one that can be explained by the “sensitive and challenging nature” of the addiction.
“I think it can be easier to focus on other issues,” he said. “You can encourage people to work out more without necessarily singling them out.”
Additional health care costs are not the only financial burden that employers have to worry about with smokers, according to the study. Smoke breaks may account for a per-smoker cost of $3,077 due to the loss in productivity. “Presenteeism,” or reduced productivity related to nicotine addiction, can cost $462.
Berman’s study notes that the research focuses only on the economic cost of employees that smoke, rather than the ethical and privacy considerations that surround the issue. While federal law does not protect smokers against hiring discrimination, a majority of states and the District of Columbia have passed smoker-protection laws, USA Today reports.

Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey Senator in His 5th Term, Dies at 89

Frank R. Lautenberg, who fought the alcohol and tobacco industries and promoted Amtrak as a five-term United States senator from New Jersey, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 89.
The cause was complications of viral pneumonia, his office said. In 2010, it announced that he had stomach cancer. Though he and his doctors expected a complete recovery, Senator Lautenberg, a Democrat, decided not to seek re-election next year.
His death leaves a vacancy in the Senate that will be filled by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican. If the governor appoints a Republican, as expected, his party will hold 46 Senate seats while the Democrats’ number will drop to 52. Two independents caucus with the Democrats.
Mr. Lautenberg was the Senate’s oldest member and last surviving veteran of World War II. He had been frequently absent from the Senate in recent months because of failing health but did appear in April in a wheelchair to cast votes in favor of tougher gun-control measures, which were defeated.
First elected in 1982 at age 58 after a successful business career, Mr. Lautenberg served three terms, retired and instantly regretted the decision. When Senator Robert G. Torricelli made a last-minute decision not to seek re-election in 2002, Mr. Lautenberg ran in his place and won the seat. He was re-elected in 2008.
Never a flashy senator — his colleagues Bill Bradley and Mr. Torricelli got more attention — Mr. Lautenberg acquired influence on the Appropriations Committee and had a consistently liberal voting record. Americans for Democratic Action said he had voted liberal 94 percent of the time.
Mr. Lautenberg’s first major victory came in 1984. A freshman senator in the minority party, he pushed through a provision to establish a national drinking age of 21, a measure that threatened to cut 10 percent of a state’s federal highway money if it did not comply. He argued that the change would save lives by ending “a crazy quilt of drinking ages in neighboring states” and prevent those under 21 from driving over “blood borders” to get drunk and then try to drive home.
“He had to fight like hell to get it through,” Jay A. Winsten, associate dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, said in an interview. “The estimates are that the cumulative lives saved are in excess of 25,000.”
Mr. Lautenberg followed that move 16 years later with another condition on highway spending: States must designate 0.08 percent blood alcohol as the level that would constitute being drunk.
In 1989, he led a successful fight to ban smoking on all commercial airline flights. Mr. Lautenberg, once a two-pack-a-day smoker, told the Senate: “With this legislation, nonsmokers, including children and infants, will be free from secondhand smoke. Working flight attendants will avoid a hazard that has jeopardized their health and their jobs.”
He later pursued legislation that prohibited smoking in federal buildings and in all federally financed places that serve children.
Mr. Lautenberg’s other legislative achievements include a 1996 law denying gun ownership to people who have committed domestic violence. He was also the author of legislation requiring that by 2012 all cargo destined for United States ports be screened for nuclear material, a requirement that both the Bush and the Obama administrations said could not be met.
Passenger railroads were another priority of the senator. He won an important victory in 2008 with legislation that nearly doubled Amtrak’s subsidy, and he advocated for federal money to help build another commuter rail tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan. When Mr. Christie killed the tunnel project in 2011, saying it was too expensive, Mr. Lautenberg, who was a critic of the governor, said the move “will go down as one of the biggest public policy blunders in New Jersey’s history.”
Another Lautenberg measure gave refugee status to people from historically persecuted groups without requiring them to show that they had been singled out. The senator estimated that 350,000 to 400,000 Jews entered the United States under that 1990 law. Evangelical Christians from the former Soviet Union also benefited from the law.
Mr. Lautenberg had never held elected office before running for senator, but he immediately took to the sharp style of New Jersey politics. His entry to the Senate and his return were preceded by scandals involving another Democrat. In 1982, Senator Harrison A. Williams Jr. resigned after being convicted of bribery in the federal corruption investigation known as Abscam. In 2002, the Senate Ethics Committee declared that Mr. Torricelli was “severely admonished” for failing to report gifts from a contributor while helping the contributor’s business through official acts. Mr. Torricelli quit the race six weeks before the election.
Campaigning was rough in Mr. Lautenberg’s first two races. In 1982 he implied that this opponent, Millicent Fenwick, a 72-year-old moderate Republican who had clashed with President Richard M. Nixon, was too old. He called her “eccentric” and offered doubts about her “fitness.” He won an upset victory with 51 percent of the vote.
In 1988, he and Pete Dawkins, a former West Point football star and Vietnam War hero, slugged it out with blunt and sometimes provably false campaign television advertisements. “Gladiator sports are in,” Mr. Lautenberg observed. He won with 54 percent.
Mr. Lautenberg contributed heavily to his own campaigns, using the wealth he had gained after joining with two boyhood friends to develop a payroll services company, Automatic Data Processing, now better known as ADP.
Mr. Lautenberg was a strong backer of motorcycle-helmet laws. Mark V. Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, recalled on Monday that the senator had kept a broken helmet in his office and showed it to visitors.
“He was skiing and he hit a tree or a rock or something, and that thing broke open like an egg, and it saved his life,” Mr. Rosenker said.
Frank Raleigh Lautenberg was born in Paterson, N.J., on Jan. 23, 1924, to Sam and Mollie Lautenberg, Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia. The family was poor. His father repeatedly tried to start up small businesses, returning to work in Paterson’s silk mills when the ventures failed.
In 2000, Mr. Lautenberg accompanied a reporter for The Star-Ledger of Newark to a long-closed silk mill. “My father took me in there one time and told me to look around,” he told the reporter. “He said you must never work like this. He said you have to get an education. I was 12; it didn’t mean a lot to me at the time. But it must have sunk in, because I did get an education. I didn’t want to work and struggle like he did.”
Mr. Lautenberg served in the Army Signal Corps in World War II and, after his discharge in 1946, used the postwar G.I. Bill of Rights to attend Columbia University, graduating in 1949. That experience, he said later, made him a strong supporter of the G.I. Bill enacted over Bush administration objections in 2008. The measure sharply increased educational benefits.
He briefly worked for the Prudential Insurance Company, but in 1952 approached Joe and Henry Taub, the classmates who had only recently started the payroll firm. Mr. Lautenberg persuaded them to hire him to sell the company’s services.
When he joined the company, he was its fifth employee. But it grew rapidly, and by 1982, when he left the company as its chief executive, it was one of the largest computer service companies in the world, with 15,000 employees.
He is survived by his wife, the former Bonnie Englebardt, whom he married in 2004; 4 children from his first marriage, to Lois Levenson, which ended in divorce in 1988: Nan Morgart, Ellen Lautenberg, Lisa Birer and Josh Lautenberg; 2 stepchildren, Danielle Englebardt and Lara Englebardt Metz; and 13 grandchildren.
As a boy Mr. Lautenberg did not have a bar mitzvah because his family’s poverty and frequent moves precluded joining a synagogue. But after he became aware of the Holocaust during the war, he began to contribute to Jewish causes. In 1968 he established the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology at the Hebrew University Medical Faculty in Jerusalem. He served as president of the American Friends of Hebrew University, was a member of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s board of governors, and from 1975 to 1977 was general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal.
He also began donating money to Democratic candidates, including $90,000 to George McGovern’s presidential race in 1972, the last before there were effective limits on individual contributions.
When asked once why he had decided to enter politics at 58, he said he had been giving money to liberals like Mr. McGovern, Birch Bayh, Edward M. Kennedy and Gary Hart. “If I’m willing to support them,” he asked rhetorically, “why shouldn’t I support myself?”[]

Study: Companies Pay Almost $6,000 Extra Per Year for Each Employee Who Smokes

Employers Can Use Cost Estimates to Develop Tobacco Policies

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study suggests that U.S. businesses pay almost $6,000 per year extra for each employee who smokes compared to the cost to employ a person who has never smoked cigarettes.
Researchers say the study is the first to take a comprehensive look at the financial burden for companies that employ smokers.
By drawing on previous research on the costs of absenteeism, lost productivity, smoke breaks and health care costs, the researchers developed an estimate that each employee who smokes costs an employer an average of $5,816 annually above the cost of a person who never smoked. These annual costs can range from $2,885 to $10,125, according to the research.
Smoke breaks accounted for the highest cost in lost productivity, followed by health-care expenses that exceed insurance costs for nonsmokers.
The analysis used studies that measured costs for private-sector employers, but the findings would likely apply in the public sector as well, said lead author Micah Berman, who will become an assistant professor of health services management and policy in The Ohio State University College of Public Health on Aug. 21. Berman began this work while on the law faculty of Capital University in Columbus.
“This research should help businesses make better informed decisions about their tobacco policies,” said Berman, who also will have an appointment in the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State. “We constructed our calculations such that individual employers can plug in their own expenses to get more accurate estimates of their own costs.”
The study focuses solely on economics and does not address ethical and privacy issues related to the adoption of workplace policies covering employee smoking. Increasingly, businesses have been adopting tobacco-related policies that include requiring smokers to pay premium surcharges for their health-care benefits or simply refusing to hire people who identify themselves as smokers.
The researchers acknowledge that providing smoking-cessation programs would be an added cost for employers.
“Employers should be understanding about how difficult it is to quit smoking and how much support is needed,” Berman said. “It’s definitely not just a cost issue, but employers should be informed about what the costs are when they are considering these policies.”
The research is published online in the journal Tobacco Control.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated a decade ago that productivity losses and medical costs amount to about $3,400 each year per smoker. However, the report looked at overall costs to the American economy from smoking-related deaths and did not try to identify those costs that would be borne by an employer, Berman noted.
The CDC says smoking accounts for nearly one in every five deaths – or about 443,000 – in the United States each year and increases the risk for such illnesses as coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other deadly lung illnesses.
The researchers used multiple studies that calculated a variety of specific costs to develop an estimate of the overall annual extra cost of each employee who smokes.
According to their annual estimates per smoker, excess absenteeism costs an average of $517 per year; “presenteeism,” or reduced productivity related to the effects of nicotine addiction, $462; smoke breaks, $3,077; and extra health care costs (for self-insured employers), $2,056.
The analysis also took into consideration a so-called death “benefit” in terms of economics. For employers who provide defined benefit plans, meaning they pay retirees a set amount in pension each year, a smoker’s early death could result in an annual cost reduction of an estimated $296. This occurs when smokers pay more into the pension system than they receive in retirement – in effect, subsidizing nonsmokers’ pensions because they live longer.
“We tried to be conservative in our estimates, and certainly the costs will vary by industry and by the type of employee,” Berman said. “Several of these estimates are based on hourly employees whose productivity can be tracked more easily.”
He noted that the analysis takes into account the known disparity in pay for smokers versus nonsmokers. In the calculations, smokers’ salaries were discounted by 15.6 percent to reflect their lower wages.
The researchers describe their findings as “needed factual context to discussions about workplace policies” intended to inform the debate over whether such policies should exist.
“Most of the places that have policies against hiring smokers are coming at it not just from a cost perspective but from a wellness perspective,” Berman said. “Many of these businesses make cessation programs available to their employees.
“Most people who smoke started when they were kids and the vast majority of them want to quit and are struggling to do so. This is a place where business interests and public health align. In addition to cutting costs, employers can help their employees lead healthier and longer lives by eliminating tobacco from the workplace.”
Co-authors of the study include Rob Crane of the College of Medicine and Eric Seiber of the College of Public Health, both at Ohio State, and Mehmet Munur of the Columbus law firm Tsibouris & Associates.

No Smoking Outside Starbucks Shops Starting Saturday

Starbucks is moving its smoking ban outdoors.
Starting Saturday, according to signs posted in its more than 7,000 shops across the U.S. and Canada, “the no-smoking policy … will include outdoor areas.”
“Smoking will be restricted within 25 feet of the store and within outdoor seating areas,” the notices read.
AdWeek says that “since smoking bans have swept the nation in the last decade, it’s doubtful there will be a huge backlash for the brand. In fact, there’s been an online movement from Starbucks consumers calling for the newly revealed policy since at least 2009.”
WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, Fla., which appears to have been first to notice the new policy, spoke to some customers at a Starbucks. It found split opinions:

“Meredith Robinson can’t wait. The non-smoker said the new rule allows her to enjoy the patio, too. ‘It makes for a better environment because a lot of people go to Starbucks and drink their coffee, too, especially on a pretty day like this,’ said Robinson.
“Long-time smoker Charli Dirani believes Starbucks will lose business under the policy by kicking people, like him, to their curb or even farther away. ‘I think for them to stop that is a conflict between the two,’ said Dirani. “Everybody knows coffee and cigarettes go hand-in-hand.’ ”

The news has the advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America calling on Starbucks to also ban loaded guns from inside its stores.

Letter: Cigarettes kill more than wars do

By: Jay Taylor, Durbin, N.D., INFORUM
As I write this, I’m looking at a Forum editorial reminding me to take time to honor the war dead, and in my heart and head, I do that. I’m writing this after Memorial Day as I would not want to take one bit of respect away from the brave soldiers who have defended our country.
I am writing this to honor one particular World War II veteran who served in Germany and came home with stories that he couldn’t even bear to tell until shortly before his death at the age of 56. The war couldn’t kill him; the memories couldn’t kill him; working six to seven days a week couldn’t kill him. Cigarettes did! He was tough but not tough enough. He died from his addiction to smoking cigarettes. So as we honor those who fought for our country’s freedom, let’s take a moment to honor those who fought addictions fed by serving in the military, among other places.
Cigarettes and tobacco products are killing more people than wars ever could. Let’s fight that battle, too.

Minnesota stores face loss of revenue after cigarette tax hike

MOORHEAD – The Legislature gave Josh Larson a huge incentive to quit smoking.
“I am currently working on that,” said Larson, store manager at Oasis Convenience store in north Moorhead.
His timing couldn’t be better. The Minnesota Legislature recently raised taxes on cigarettes $1.60 a pack, bringing state taxes to $2.52 per pack.
Larson said he’s not the only smoker he knows who is thinking of quitting. He said many of his friends plan to quit because the taxes have made a pack so expensive on this side of the Red River.
“I think people will definitely go into Fargo to buy cartons,” said Larson, adding that the tax will very likely cut into the Oasis’ cigarette sales. “The ones that are serious smokers, they’ll buy them every once in a while.”
The increase in cigarette taxes has convenience store owners in Moorhead worried that most of their customers will stop at Fargo convenience stores, said Chuck Chadwick, executive director of the Moorhead Business Association.
North Dakota hasn’t raised its taxes on cigarettes since 1993, where the state tax is 44 cents per pack.
“The devastating piece is, once the traffic patterns change … it’s really difficult to break a customer’s habits,” Chadwick said.
Convenience stores already operate on low margins, Chadwick said, and with the loss of customer traffic, stores won’t only lose the money from cigarette sales, which is a relatively small percentage of their overall sales. They will also lose impulse buys that go with cigarettes – coffee, sodas, candy and other incidentals customers bring to the counter with their smokes, he said.
Bobbi Orona, assistant manager at the Holiday Station in north Moorhead, said her boss isn’t looking forward to the increased cigarette tax.
“A lot of our regular customers – over half – are smokers,” she said.
Orona said she’s been hearing a lot of complaints recently, first about high gas prices and now about the cost of a pack of cigarettes.
A single pack of Marlboros at the Holiday will set you back about $7, Orona said.
At the Oasis, Larson said he thinks business will be saved by the fact that they’re one of the few stores around to sell bait. There are also the scratch-off lottery tickets, which he describes as the store’s No. 1 selling item.
Larson’s bigger concern these days is figuring out how to continue selling cigarettes at the same time he’s trying to quit.

Minnesota Tobacco Tax Increase is Big Win for Kids and Health

Statement of Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC — It is terrific news for Minnesota’s kids and health that the Legislature has voted to increase the state cigarette tax by $1.60 per pack and also increase the tax on other tobacco products. The tobacco tax increase is truly a win-win-win solution for Minnesota — a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, a financial win that will help to balance the state budget and fund essential programs, and a political win that polls show is popular with voters. We look forward to Governor Mark Dayton signing this legislation into law.
We applaud Governor Dayton and legislative leaders for siding with kids over the tobacco industry by supporting the tobacco tax increase. We also congratulate the Raise It for Health Coalition that has fought tirelessly to reduce tobacco use and save lives in Minnesota.
The evidence is clear that increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by about 6.5 percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent. Minnesota can expect the $1.60 cigarette tax increase will:

  • Prevent more than 47,700 Minnesota kids from becoming smokers
  • Spur more than 36,600 current adult smokers to quit
  • Save more than 25,700 Minnesota residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths
  • Save more than $1.65 billion in future health care costs.

The state projects that the $1.60 cigarette tax increase and increased taxes on other tobacco products will raise $434 million in new revenue over the next two years (fiscal years 2014-15).
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Minnesota, claiming 5,500 lives each year and costing the state $2 billion annually in health care bills. While Minnesota has made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 18 percent of high school students still smoke and 6,800 more kids become regular smokers every year.
With Minnesota’s increase to $2.83 per pack, the average state cigarette tax will be $1.51 per pack. We call on states across the nation to significantly increase the tobacco tax to reduce tobacco use and its devastating health and financial toll.

Smoking banned on Bismarck’s playgrounds

BISMARCK, N.D. – In a 5-0 vote on Thursday, the Bismarck Park Board took swift action to ban smoking on the 44 playgrounds and play areas it manages. People must step 20 feet away from the playground before they light up.
Alecia Uhde, chairwoman of the Go! Bismarck Mandan coalition, said she made the request as part of the group’s goal to improve the health, fitness and quality of life for people.
“One of those (goals) was to increase the number of tobacco-free designated areas for children, specifically outdoors,” she said. “Young children are impressible. … Secondhand smoke, even in outdoor settings, is a true health hazard and harms everyone.”
Uhde said discarded tobacco products in play areas may be ingested by toddlers.
“I believe we set an example for the children of this community,” park board President Mike Schwartz said after the meeting.
Bismarck Parks and Recreation Executive Director Randy Bina said the smoking ban will create a better awareness of healthy lifestyles and examples for children.
“All we’re saying is, if someone does want to smoke, just step away 20 feet from the playground and just don’t smoke inside the playground,” he said.
Bina said Go! Bismarck Mandan will help the park district pay for new signs explaining the tobacco bans in playgrounds. He didn’t think there would be an enforcement issue.
“This policy is dependent upon people self-policing the playgrounds. We need the cooperation of all of the users that if they see someone smoking, make the individual aware of the policy and ask them to move 20 feet away from the playground,” he said.
Two proposals to further limit tobacco use in Mandan parks failed on Monday. Tobacco use is already barred at several park locations and events throughout the Mandan park system.
In separate action, the Bismarck Park Board:

  • Agreed to advertise for bids for the Hoge Island boat ramp. It also entered into an agreement with the state Game and Fish Department to replace the ramp.
  • Received a final facilities report from JLG Architects that gave them several options for replacing Hillside Pool and making it a year-round meeting facility, improving the World Memorial Building and adding at least one more sheet of ice for hockey programs. Bina said the options will be discussed in the 2014 budgeting process this summer. For more information about the proposals, visit
  • Awarded Northwest Contracting the bid for the Schaumberg Arena work to remove its sand base floor and replace it with concrete, and install new refrigeration piping, ceiling work and an overhead door on the east side. The low bid is $587,200. The project will be finished by Oct. 1, Bina said.

New tobacco limits fail in Mandan parks

Two attempts to tighten tobacco limits in Mandan’s park system failed Monday. In the end, the Mandan Park Board voted to support keeping several locations where tobacco is already banned by park staff.
The Go! Bismarck Mandan Coalition in April proposed that tobacco use be banned in all playgrounds in the district.
Based on survey results and comments, Parks and Recreation Director Cole Higlin proposed prohibiting tobacco use everywhere but in parking lots and the golf courses on Mandan park property.
“I do not like people to smoke near parks because I like to play and want everyone to be safe,” said 10-year-old Zara Laber, a park user.
Her mother, Shawna Laber, said allowing smoking where children gather is “not positive role modeling for anyone under (age) 18 … and a fire safety (issue).” She said smokeless tobacco is unsanitary near children.
Jack Jones of the Mandan Softball Association said the adults already police themselves in ball games.
“If golf is left out this, I would appreciate if the softball complex was as well,” he said. “It is against (American Softball Association) rules to smoke while playing. … Occasionally, there are players between innings and between games that will step out of the dugout, walk down a ways and have a cigarette. In 25 years, I’ve never seen anybody smoke in the bleachers.”
Vice Park Board President Tracy Porter made a motion to ban smoking in parks and shelters, soccer field at Dacotah Centennial and its dog park. The motion died for a lack of a second.
Park board member Kevin Allan made a motion that prohibited tobacco use on all park district properties, except for the golf courses and parking lots.
“Common sense prevails. If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” said Park Board President Jason Arenz. Allan’s motion failed in a 4-1 vote. Allan was the only park board member to vote yes.
Arenz briefly stepped down as president so he could make a motion endorse the parks policy, which now bans tobacco at youth baseball, Dacotah Centennial Park and its seating, Memorial Ballpark and the Raging Rivers. All five park board members approved it.
Park board member Wanda Knoll said she’d like to revisit tobacco policy in four months and see if there is an issue. Higlin said there had been no complaints about current tobacco policy.

Parks ponder playground tobacco ban

Mandan and Bismarck park systems will consider making their green space smoke-free next week.
The Mandan Park Board, which surveyed its park users, will revisit the issue at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Both park entities were approached by the Go! Bismarck-Mandan Coalition to remove tobacco from the play areas.
The group will make its pitch to the Bismarck Park Board at its 5:15 p.m. Thursday meeting at the City/County Building.
A Mandan park committee recommendation favors banning smoking everywhere but parking lots and the golf course, Mandan Parks and Recreation Director Cole Higlin said Friday. The Mandan Park Board will make the final decision on what tobacco limits to set.
Higlin said tobacco use is already prohibited at most Mandan park facilities and there are signs posted. He said the new proposal also will keep it off park trails, adult softball areas and the Dacotah Centennial Park area.
He doesn’t expect expansion will cause a bigger maintenance issue for staff.
“It probably causes no more or less littering,” he said. “Receptacles could be added (for the cigarette butts).”
Higlin said 292 park system users responded to a survey about a tobacco ban for facilities, either online or using one that had been sent to them by email.
Nearly 44 percent said second-hand smoke at outdoor park facilities bothered them a lot. Twenty percent said it bothered them a little and 29.2 percent said it didn’t bother them at all.
Those polled also were asked if they were bothered by smokeless or spit tobacco. Of the responders, 26.6 percent said it bothered them a lot, 37.2 percent said it bothered them a little and 36.2 percent they weren’t bothered.
Of the Mandan park system users polled, 61 percent favored banning it at the golf courses and 38 percent said they were opposed. Nearly 60 percent wanted it banned on trails and 40 percent were against barring tobacco on trails.
About 80 percent said they wanted tobacco use banned on athletic fields and playgrounds. Eighty-one percent wanted its use banned at concession areas and 67 percent wanted tobacco off Dacotah Centennial Park, according to the Mandan poll.
Higlin said common sense would come into play, and people would follow the rules without staff intervention to enforce it.
“We hope this serves as a possible message to the youth,” said Higlin.
“Go! Bismarck-Mandan is asking us to do this in the playgrounds only,” said Bismarck Park Board member Wayne Munson. “Personally, I favor that idea.”
He said there could be issues with enforcement.
Bismarck Parks and Recreation Executive Director Randy Bina said the proposal sounds reasonable.
He doesn’t expect the park district will incur many extra costs for its 44 playgrounds. Go! Bismarck-Mandan has offered to pay for stickers for both park entities.
“Most park users are respectful of others (in their tobacco use),” he said.
Bina said, if approved, the park district might model the playground policy after the state smoking ban for buildings and keep tobacco use 20 feet away from a playground.