It would appear that Ohioans want to curb smoking in public places. In fact 20 Ohio cities, including our nearby capital of Columbus, already have smoking bans in place. Now we have on our upcoming ballot, not one, but two, state-wide anti-smoking proposals to vote on: Issue 4 and Issue 5. One is sponsored by a group called Smoke Less Ohio, the other by a group called Smoke Free Ohio. Both are polling in the 55-60% range for passage. Now, setting aside your feelings on whether you think a smoking restrictions are good or bad, what could be more democratic than a direct vote on such a topic?
Two different smoking issues on the ballot at the same time?
Does that seem odd?
Does anyone smell a rat?
Issue 4 proposes a new ammendment to the state constitution to put some relatively minor restrictions on smoking in indoor public places. Issue 5 is for a more restrictive state law that would prohibit smoking in most indoor public places.
What happens if they both pass? I'll get to that in a sec.
Issue 4 is sponsored by a group called Smoke Less Ohio. They call their bill "The common sense smoking ban." Members of the Smoke Less Ohio coalition include:
- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
- Lorillard Tobacco Company
- Retail Tobacco Dealers Association
- National Association of Tobacco Outlets, Inc.
- Cigar Association of America
Now let's say they both pass, which looks pretty likely. That should send a resounding signal that Ohioans want to get away from secondhand smoke, right?
Let's see what will actually happen: Passage of Issue 5 would mean a new state law. Passage of Issue 4 would me a new constitutional ammendment. Constitutional ammendment trumps law. Issue 4 supersedes Issue 5. Furthermore, as a constitutional ammendment, Issue 4 also supersedes any local laws on the subject. So any existing restrictions (like the one passed not once, but twice by voters in Columbus) would be tossed out.
From this we can deduce the following key points:
- Politicians are corrupt
- Voters are ill-informed
- Tobacco comanies are evil
- I hate politics