With Election Day looming ever closer, the time has come for me to make a plug for the one thing on the ballot I truly do care about. There are two issues facing Ohioans concerning a state-wide smoking ban.
The first, Issue 4, is a sham smoking ban being pushed by R.J. Reynolds and the tobacco industry. It proposes to ban smoking in all public places except the ones that people actually, you know, go to. In addition, if passed, it would become an amendment to the state constitution, where it has no business. As such, it would countermand any local smoking bans that are already in place, and it would also be very difficult to amend/repeal in the future. Whether or not you are in favor of a statewide smoking ban, I urge you to vote NO on Issue 4.
Issue 5, on the other hand, represents a smoking ban with teeth. It would ban smoking in all enclosed public places--restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, etc. This would shield everyone, employees and patrons alike, from the dangers of secondhand smoke, as well as just making life more pleasant in general. It would be a state law, not a constitutional amendment, and it would place all establishments on a level playing field. It may not bring about world peace, but it certainly isn't going to hurt. I urge you to vote YES on Issue 5.
The following message, clarifying the issues, was written by Dr. Stephen Roberts, a professor in the College of Medicine at the University of Toledo (and you know I'm serious about this if I actually give a shit what anyone from UT has to say):
Do you think the tobacco industry cares about your health? That's what they're claiming by funding a campaign for what they refer to as a "smoking ban." In reality, Issue 4, their pro-smoking constitutional amendment, would keep the clouds of smoke in restaurants and many other public places. Issue 5 for a SmokeFreeOhio is the real smoke-free public places law.
Be certain you know what you're voting for this November. Don't be fooled into voting for both issues. Vote against Issue 4 which is a constitutional amendment that would trump Issue 5.
As the U.S. Surgeon General said in a report released this June, the discussion is over: Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard that causes heart disease, lung disease, and cancer in nonsmokers. Issue 5 protects children, seniors, and people with health problems from dangerous secondhand smoke by making all public places and workplaces in the state of Ohio smoke-free.
Issue 5 is based on the belief that all workers and citizens have the right to breathe smoke-free air in public places and at work. Everyone, including smokers, will still be able to enjoy all public places. Smokers will simply be asked to step outside to smoke so everyone's health is protected.
SmokeFreeOhio is a campaign of the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, and more than 500 other businesses and organizations.
Issue 5 simply becomes a state law just like any law passed by the state legislature and does not amend the constitution.
While most Ohioans support Issue 5, a handful of groups funded by the tobacco industry oppose SmokeFreeOhio. This industry coalition chose a confusingly-similar name: Smoke Less Ohio.
Issue 4's primary funder is R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, the second largest cigarette manufacturer in the United States. They have promised millions of dollars to fight Issue 5, while trying to trick Ohioans into believing that they are passing Issue 4 as a public health policy.
Their purpose has always been to prevent SmokeFreeOhio from passing and to keep clouds of smoke in most public places. Issue 4 would keep smoking in restaurants, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and bars. Also, any place that declares itself off limits to children can allow smoking throughout the building.
Issue 4 would make it unconstitutional to protect the health of the more than 500,000 hospitality workers or their customers. The only way to change the Smoke Less Ohio law would be to pass another constitutional amendment, a long and expensive process.
Issue 4 would overturn the strong smoke-free laws in 21 Ohio cities and prevent anyone from ever again passing a smoke-free law to protect their citizens.
Don't be fooled; don't vote for both! If Issue 4 passes, you lose your right to breathe smoke-free air. Vote NO on Issue 4 and Yes on Issue 5.
We hope you join us in support of a SmokeFreeOhio. Visit online at www.SmokeFreeOhio.org or call 1-888-ACS-OHIO.
Remember: NO on 4; YES on 5.