Ohio smoking ban just stinks.

October 4, 2007 at 1:07 am (politics) (, , )

The state of Ohio has a ban on smoking in effect. The details of this ban can be found in the Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3794. Essentially, this law prohibits anyone from smoking inside of a public building or near outside doorways. The law is broad sweeping and allows for few exceptions.  This law blatantly tramples on the rights of business owners. If someone operates a business that is currently regulated by the state (such as a bar), that normally requires the patrons to be of a certain age, they should be able to operate this business as smoking or non-smoking.

If it is true that the majority of citizens living in Ohio are non-smokers, why should they trample the rights of the minority with their voting power? Rather, shouldn’t people be encouraged to vote on economic items with their wallet and feet? In other words, if people really wanted to go to a non-smoking bar, they should have gone to them. The reason that most bars were smoking is that the majority of bar patrons liked to smoke when they were at a bar.

The Ohio smoking ban is clearly a type of abuse of power. Majority voters have used the law to control the behavior of people who patronized certain establishments. The voters clearly were not the people regularly patronizing bars and clubs. Whenever I visit a bar or club at this time over half of the customers are usually outside where they are still allowed to smoke. It is even common at times to find far more people outside then inside the establishment.

If you did not like being in a bar or club where people smoke, simply go to one where people don’t. Why wield the broad arm of the law to control what everyone does, just because you personally don’t like something?

As an ending note, it is interesting to point out what the Ohio Revised Code (3794.03(g)) defines as a “Private Club”. One would think that if a club was “private”, and only open to members, then if the members wanted to smoke, it would be acceptable. Not so in Ohio. Here is what the ORC states:

(G) Private clubs as defined in section 4301.01(B)(13) of the Revised Code, provided all of the following apply: the club has no employees; the club is organized as a not for profit entity; only members of the club are present in the club’s building; no persons under the age of eighteen are present in the club’s building; the club is located in a freestanding structure occupied solely by the club; smoke from the club does not migrate into an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited under the provisions of this chapter; and, if the club serves alcohol, it holds a valid D4 liquor permit.

So lets get this straight.  You need to have the following in order to qualify:

  • No employees (can they all be contractors?)
  • Organized as a not for profit
  • Only members can enter the club
  • No members are permitted in the building who are under the age of 18
  • Club must be in a free standing building
  • If the club sells alcohol, it must have a D4 license

All of these together basically make it impossible for any club to function as a “Private Club”.  Clearly this was added by the voters and law makers as an impossible exception.  “Sure we made an exception for Private Clubs, but you’ll never be able to use it”.  Just another example of a nanny law.

Shouldn’t this law have cleared the air?  Instead it sure seems to stink.


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