Ohioans say yes to public smoking ban

John Oberlin

Voters yesterday approved a ban on smoking in most public buildings and rejected a tobacco-backed ban that would have exempted bars, enclosed parts of restaurants and certain sporting venues.

The successful Issue 5 bans smoking in all buildings outside the home, except for tobacco shops, designated hotel rooms and enclosed areas in nursing homes. Issue 4 would have exempted bars, race tracks, bowling alleys and bingo halls from a ban.

Fifty-eight percent of voters supported Issue 5 while 42 percent opposed it, and Issue 4 was opposed by 64 percent and supported by 36 percent. Issue 2, one of six minimum wage issues around the country, was supported 56 percent to 44 percent.

“Issue 4 was an attempt to protect big tobacco’s bottom line,” said Tracy Sabetta, co-chair of Smoke Free Ohio, the American Cancer Society-backed group that promoted Issue 5. “We know we will see an improvement in the health of bartenders and others in the hospitality industry.”

Smoke Less Ohio, the group largely financed by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and some restaurant and bar owners, said it accepted the vote.

“The voters had an opportunity, through comprehensive campaigns on both sides of the issue, to educate themselves, form an opinion and then vote,” spokesman Jacob Evans said. “That is the purpose of allowing initiatives, and we respect that process and the outcome.”

Robert Morson, owner of Riverside Wine and Imports in Kent, said he is an avid non-smoker, and when he opened his wine store as a bar a year ago he wanted to keep it non-smoking.

Although he doesn’t feel that other people should tell a business that it has to be smoke free, he did vote for Issue 5.

Megan Kleidon, director of prevention and tobacco control programs at the Portage County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, which supported Issue 5 said someone smoking in a public place is another’s habit that affects her health.

Contact public affairs reporter John Oberlin at [email protected].