Oy gevalt! is what people in the state of Ohio are going to be thinking once completing down-ballot races and glancing at these competing issues with very different goals.
First, the overview.
Ohio Issue 4:
Backed by the hospitality industry and funded by the R.J. Reynolds company, the proponents of issue four seek to, by constitutional amendment, allow smoking in public locations such as bars, bowling alleys, restaurants, and negate any local smoking ordinances previously passed. The issue is being touted as SmokeLess Ohio.
The reality is that the proposed amendment takes away the ability of local governments to regulate smoking in their communities by making it unconstitutional for any legislation counteractive to the amendment to be passed. The matter is a total regression on the progress that had been made to curtail smoking in restaurants. I remember the adage regarding the utility of no-smoking sections in restaurants: Are there no-peeing areas in the swimming pool?
Ohio Issue 5:
Backed by the American Cancer Society, issue five, touted as Smoke Free Ohio, seeks to effectively ban smoking in restaurants and a host of other public establishments. The issue is a legislative initiative and is not a constitutional amendment. In the wake of other smoking bans being implemented elsewhere in the state, backers of issue five began to circulate petitions for ballot access in late 2005.
This initiative, if passed, could be amended by state legislators in a process much easier than, say, repealing a constitutional amendment.
SmokeLess Ohio is like Learn and Earn in its short-sighted foolishness. Matters such as gambling and smoking (and gay marriage) are not fundamental and thus should not be enacted by constitutional amendment.
Vote NO on Issue 4, SmokeLess Ohio.
Smoke Free Ohio does more, yet does it in a fashion that would not require another election for a change to be made to it. I support a statewide test run of this and should it hurt business as much as business claims it will hurt them, which I sincerely doubt, it can be easily changed.
Vote YES on Issue 5, Smoke Free Ohio.