Smoke-free Air for Everyone Coalition
Improve the health of the citizens of Cass County through education and strategies designed to eliminate the use of tobacco products and exposure to the harmful effects of tobacco.
The SAFE Coalition, formerly known as the Fargo-Cass Tobacco Prevention Network, was formed in 2002 to address concerns related to tobacco use and workplace exposure to secondhand smoke in Cass County. The coalition is comprised of representatives from twelve organizations including healthcare, various non-profits and schools. Concerned citizens make up nearly one third of SAFE membership.
Starting in 2003, SAFE began working toward eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants in the cities of Fargo and West Fargo. Local ordinances passed in both cities in 2004, making it illegal to smoke in restaurants that allowed minors to enter the premises. In 2006 there was a successful statewide movement that mirrored the accomplishments of Fargo and West Fargo. In 2007 SAFE began the task of working toward comprehensive smoke-free ordinances for all public workplaces, including bars, truck stops and public access rentals/leases in Fargo and West Fargo. Collaboration with a citizen group called ‘Share the Air’ resulted in an initiated measure for comprehensive smoke-free ordinances being placed on the June 2008 ballots in both communities. Both measures passed: the Fargo vote indicated that 61% of voters were supportive of a comprehensive ordinance and the West Fargo vote indicated that 57% of those voters felt the same way. Both ordinances went into effect in July 1, 2008.
Starting in the summer of 2012, members of the SAFE Leadership Team lead the coalition in collecting petition signatures to place a statewide smoke-free law on the November 2012 ballot. Nearly 20,000 signatures were gathered state-wide, with more than 5,700 collected from Cass County. The ballot measure passed overwhelmingly, with 66.66% of ND residents voting in favor of the new law. The new law went into effect December 6, 2012 and protects residents from exposure to secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking in all enclosed areas of public workplaces, including vehicles.
Looking to the future
The future of the SAFE Coalition and the local tobacco prevention program look bright! The goals for Cass County will focus on increasing the number of tobacco-free policies in parks, schools and multi-unit housing locations, supporting people in their quit attempts and reducing youth initiation of tobacco use.
These goals can only be accomplished by working in partnership with other health-minded individuals. Please consider becoming part of the SAFE Coalition to improve the health and wellness of YOUR community!!