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Smoking-ban battle takes shape in Ohio

Publication Date: 2006-10-01
  • Author:Jim Provance
  • Publication:Toledo (OH) Blade

Dueling issues on the November ballot pit tobacco giant against American Cancer Society.

In this corner, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the corporation that makes billions selling a product.

In this corner, the American Cancer Society, the nonprofit organization that spends millions battling a disease caused by that product.

The two are the deep pockets behind a pair of competing smoking bans headed for a ballot showdown on Nov. 7 in Ohio, the latest stage in a long-term national strategy for both.

Issue 5, pushed by a coalition of health organizations called SmokeFreeOhio, would enact a voter-initiated law to prohibit smoking in all indoor public establishments with few exceptions. Issue 4, the Smoke Less Ohio alternative pushed by the tobacco and hospitality industries, would use the Ohio Constitution to carve out protections for bars, some restaurants, and other establishments.

If both issues pass, the constitutional amendment would prevail over Issue 5's initiated law and overturn existing bans in Toledo, Bowling Green, and 19 other cities.

Who better to do battle with Big Tobacco than the cancer society, asked Shirley Dwyer, a West Toledo resident who helped gather the signatures to put the strict SmokeFreeOhio on the ballot.