South Dakota’s Smoking Ban

The expansion of South Dakota’s smoking ban is now in effect, after voters voted to keep it in this month’s referendum. The new law is really quite straightforward, despite the amazingly wild stories circulating.

The new law can be boiled down to four parts:

  1. No smoking or carrying lit tobacco products in a place of work or public place — including bars, which is the change to the old law;
  2. Anyone who is in charge (or owns) a bar or place of work must tell people about the law when they see someone violating it;
  3. Anyone who breaks rule 1 or 2 has committed a Petty Offense, the fine for which is $25.
  4. None of this applies to cigar clubs or tobacco shops where people do not drink, which have to file an annual report proving they qualify for the exemption.

That’s it. Really pretty straightforward, as far as laws go. There is no requirement that cops patrol the bars; there is no provision for shutting a bar down completely if one person is caught smoking. The legislature is relying on the belief that people in South Dakota are generally law-abiding and prefer not to get into trouble. Of course, bar-owners and other people in their position need to understand that repeated problems or complaints may impact their liquor license and business, just like any other repeated legal infractions.

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