On to the governor�s desk

On to the governorâ�?�?s desk Legislature approves smoke free legislation The South Dakota House has concurred with Senate changes to HB1240 by a vote of 46-23.  HB1240 would limit nearly all indoor workplace smoking in the state, including bars, restaurants, Deadwood casinos, and video lottery establishments.  The bill now moves to the governor's desk for his signature. "We are elated," says Darrin Smith, senior advocacy director of the American Heart Association of South Dakota.  "We've been working on this for a long time, alongside many other health organizations.  It's been a long time coming." An amendment by the Senate last week makes the penalties the same for businesses or individuals in violation; the House version had made penalties for businesses greater than those for individuals.  The legislation promises to save lives and money in South Dakota. "Heart attack hospitalizations have dropped by as much as 41 percent in communities enacting smoke free legislation, like Pueblo, CO," says Smith.  "According to the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, this could mean a savings as high as $15 to $23 million dollars a year on heart attack hospitalizations in the state of South Dakota." That doesn't include other dangerous effects of secondhand smoke, like lung cancer, emphysema, and stroke.  All told, smoking costs South Dakotans close to $300 million dollars a year in health care expenses. "South Dakotans feel strongly about protecting the people of this state from secondhand smoke," says Mary Michaels, grassroots advocacy director for the American Heart Association of the Dakotas. "And they made their voices heard.  They made calls, sent emails, wrote letters, and legislators listened.  We hope the governor listens as well." The current state law, enacted July 1, 2002, prohibits smoking in most public places and worksites but exempts any establishment with an alcohol license, tobacco retail stores, video lottery establishments, Deadwood casinos, and hotel rooms. "The American Heart Association is proud to have helped pass this landmark bill through the legislature," says Smith.  "We thank all who helped us in this effort."

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