Smoke Less Ohio

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Smoke Less Ohio is a front group created by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to campaign against proposed measures to restrict tobacco consumption. [1]

Shelly Kiser, a spokeswoman for SmokeFreeOhio, told Associated Press that "the tobacco industry has fought us every step of the way. They have taken out more than 30 lawsuits against us... It's been horrible." [2]

The groups web domain was, according to joker.com, registered on January 18, 2006 by Strategic Public Partners, a Ohio-headquartered PR and lobbying firm. [3] Michael Komaschka from SPP is a registerd lobbyist for RJR. [4]

Personnel

November 6, 2006 Election

There was an effort to adopt Section 12 of Article XV of the Constitution of the State of Ohio, which would have altered to criteria for where smoking would be permitted in Ohio. The League of Women Voters Ohio Education Fund provided an impartial analysis of the proposed amendment, which include, "This proposed amendment would allow smoking in the following enclosed public areas: separate smoking areas in restaurants, most bars, bingo or bowling facilities, separated areas of hotels and nursing homes, race tracks, tobacco stores, private residences and nonpublic facilities. It would prohibit smoking in all other enclosed public areas. The amendment would also override home rule, invalidating and prohibiting local bans on smoking. A majority yes vote is necessary for passage. Note: There are two smoking-related ballot issues. This proposal is to approve a constitutional amendment." [5]

The rationale for passage of the constitutional amendment put forth by Jacob Evan of Smoke Less Ohio was as follows: "Explanation and Argument in Support of Issue 4

  • The Smoke Less Ohio proposal on the November ballot is a constitutional amendment to ban smoking in 90% of Ohio businesses.
  • This is a reasonable approach to meeting the needs of Ohioans to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. We are proposing an effective smoking ban to keep smoke out of 90% of all the businesses in Ohio.
  • Smoke Less is a common sense approach that protects both non-smokers and individual rights. Smoke Less protects the rights of individuals and businesses to make their own personal choices about smoking in very limited locations. Smoke Less provides exceptions for places where there are no minor children or where a total ban would threaten the health of the business. Bars are the main exception. Bowling alleys, bingo locations, and completely separate, enclosed areas in restaurants are the others.
  • Smoke Less has proposed that the Ohio smoking ban be a constitutional amendment. That will be a dependable, permanent solution, so Ohioans know clearly where smoking is or is not allowed. Business owners can make a decision about whether to become entirely smoke-free or to participate in the allowed exceptions. If decided by statute, our smoking laws will be subject to constant change, and voters could be asked to decide the same question over and over again.
  • Smoke Less is a common sense smoking ban for Ohio. " [6]

SmokeFree Ohio's Formal Electoral Complaint against Smoke Less Ohio

SmokeFree Ohio filed a complaint that Smoke Less Ohio deceived people in order to gain signatures on their petition to place their constitutional amendment on the November ballot.[7]

Election Results

Ohio voters opted instead for Issue 5, which was the one backed by SmokeFree Ohio, not backed by Smoke Less Ohio. It provides strict protections and restrictions of where smoking can take place. [8] Enforcement by Ohio's Health Department started on May 3, 2007 -- a month before the mandatory start date of June 3, 2007.


Coalition members

Contact details

Smoke Less Ohio
88 E. Broad St., Ste. 1320
Columbus, OH 43215
Email: info AT smokelessohio.org
Web: http://www.smokelessohio.com/index.htm (now defunct -- a November 2006 version is archived at archive.org [9]

Other SourceWatch Resources

External links

  • Steve Hartsoe, "Firm tries to snuff out smoking bans: Cigarette maker Reynolds American plans to spend $40 million to fight anti-tobacco measures on Nov. ballots", The Detroit News, July 28, 2006.