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Ohio Smoke Free Workplace Act is constitutional

Publication Date: 2012-05-23
  • Author:Darrel Rowland
  • Publication:The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio’s smoking ban is legal, a unanimous Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

The high court’s 7-0 decision affirmed a ruling by the Franklin County Court of Appeals upholding the Ohio Smoke Free Workplace Act, approved by Ohio voters in 2006.

Today’s decision, written by Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, rejected claims by the owner of Zeno’s Victorian Village that state fines against his bar for violating the statewide ban on smoking in workplaces exceeded the state’s legitimate police powers or were an unconstitutional governmental “taking” of private property.

“We have previously stated that the General Assembly has the authority to enact a public-smoking ban,” Lanzinger wrote, citing a 2002 Supreme Court case.

“Although the Smoke Free Act was ultimately passed pursuant to a ballot initiative, the voters of Ohio also have a legitimate purpose in protecting the general welfare and health of Ohio citizens and workforce from the dangers of secondhand smoke in enclosed public places. By requiring that proprietors of public places and places of employment take reasonable steps to prevent smoking on their premises by posting ‘no smoking’ signs, removing ashtrays, and requesting patrons to stop smoking, the act is rationally related to its stated objective.”...

Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office represents the state health department, said, “This is great news for the health of Ohioans and for the democratic process. The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a law passed by a statewide majority of Ohio voters, and patrons and employees of Ohio businesses will continue to enjoy surroundings that are safer because they are smoke-free.”...