Smoking Law Costs | VideoJessica Roose | 1/23/2013
When the statewide smoking ban went into effect, some business owners say it came with a hefty price.
"The cost to comply and the amount of these signs that need to go up is astronomical and the reasonableness is just not there," said Tom Balzer with the ND Motor Carriers Association.
The bill, which was heard by members in the Human Services Committee, would require the Tobacco Prevention and Advisory Committee reimburse costs that were incurred by establishments around the state.
"To financially help each of these businesses I don`t think is called for. We all, I have, have to keep up with in my business with the industry at all times," said ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr. Andrew Hetland.
Opponents say the wording of the bill doesn`t leave much for consideration.
"A key phrase in that is we shall reimburse. This is leaving us no discretion to determine if the costs are actually appropriate," said Executive Director for Tobacco Prevention Jeanne Prom.
Those who support the legislation say the reimbursements are needed to keep up with the regulations.
"We set a policy regarding this and then we all spend money to come into compliance with it. Then two years later the policy changes, then we have to spend money again to come into compliance with the new policy and then two years later the policy changes," said Executive Director of the ND Hospitality Association Rudie Martinson.
Prom says some of those changes, like the ones to smoking huts, which are banned under the new law, were never guaranteed. "In 2005 there were statements made by legislators that were very clear saying building certain places for smoking may be allowed now but please be on notice that there`s no guarantee that these will always be allowed."
If the legislation passes, those businesses who may have incurred some of these costs would be required to show and turn in receipts to the Tobacco Prevention and Advisory committee.
Opponents also say another concern is that it doesn`t set a limit on how much is to be reimbursed.