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Analysis: The big lie

Publication Date: 2006-10-16
  • Author:Dan Williamson
  • Publication:Athens (OH) News

According to a Columbus Dispatch poll published Sept. 24, Issue 4 is winning 55-38 and Issue 5 is up 58-34. That means some voters -- and probably a lot of them -- plan to vote for both.

If they do, they stand to be unpleasantly surprised at the result.

Issue 5, which is backed by a group called "SmokeFreeOhio" and endorsed by public-health advocates, would bring the rest of Ohio in line with the Columbus indoor-smoking ban passed by City Council in 2004. Smoking would be prohibited in almost all public indoor spaces, including bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and office buildings.

Issue 4, which is called "Smoke Less Ohio" and backed by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. -- the folks behind the Joe Camel cartoon character -- would render Issue 5 null and void. . . .

And yet, not only does the campaign organization shamelessly call itself "Smoke Less Ohio," but the Ohio secretary of state's office approved ballot language that presents Issue 4 as a smoking ban. It begins with the sentence, "This proposed amendment would prohibit smoking in enclosed areas except..."

Except a whole lot of places: bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, tobacco shops and restaurants that make 40 percent of their profit from alcohol sales.

So isn't it weird to call Issue 4 a smoking ban when -- particularly in municipalities where public-smoking curbs exist -- it's just the opposite?