Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ohio's Smoking Ban Has Some Teeth

Ohio's smoking ban applies to private clubs, high court rules
Wednesday, June 4, 2008 12:06 PM

Veterans' halls and other members-only clubs will be no-smoking zones despite Gov. Ted Strickland's quest to exempt them from the statewide smoking ban.

The Ohio Supreme Court extinguished the clubs' last legal case to get out from under the law that bans smoking at restaurants, bars and nearly all other public buildings.

Without comment today, the state's highest court let stand rulings from the Franklin County Common Pleas Court and Court of Appeals that applied the smoking ban to private clubs because their employees would be exposed to secondhand smoke.

The court's 4-3 decision left some clubs gasping for air.

"This is not good for any of us," said William Seagraves, executive director of the VFW of Ohio Charities. "Our clubs' business is down 30percent this year. We're down 5,000 members in Ohio. We're looking forward to an increase in the amount of money we get from charitable gaming. If we fail on both, we're in big trouble."

Strickland had sought to make Ohio's 1,500 private clubs sanctuaries for smokers. He contends that the 2006 measure approved by more than 58 percent of voters specifically exempted members-only clubs from the ban.

In fact, the 2006 law does contain an exception for private clubs, provided that they have no employees.

Judge David E. Cain of Franklin County Common Pleas Court ruled in May 2007 that there's no such thing as a private club without employees because even volunteer employees count. In a 3-0 decision in December, the Franklin County Court of Appeals backed his position.

Strickland's position is at odds with the purpose of the statewide smoking ban, "that it is in the best interest of public health that smoking be prohibited in public places and ‘ places of employment,'" the appeals court ruled.

The Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, a trade group of alcohol-vending establishments, brought the case challenging the exemption for private clubs.

Although the association opposed the smoking ban, it contended that carving out private clubs would be contrary to its purpose.

1 comment:

William said...

I have a problem here. It's okay to get into your car and drive to a bar or club and get completley shit-faced then afterwords get back into your car and attempt to drive home. All the while taking everyone's life on the road into your drunken hands. But, by God, lighting that cigarette will kill everyone in the building *gasp* !!! What's next, smoker Leper colonies?