Ohio Supreme Court hears arguments challenging state’s smoking ban

In the second-biggest news of the day in Ohio — the first being all the tigers and lions that had to be shot — the Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments today challenging that state’s controversial 2007 smoking ban.

Ohio is one of the states where controversy over the smoking ban just continues to simmer. In most other states, everyone just gets used to it, but for some reason, in a handful of states, bans were massively controversial when they were being legislated, then continue to be controversial for months and even years afterward. In Ohio, it has dragged on for four-plus years. The most active thread on Topix is about the Ohio smoking ban — a thread that began nearly five years ago and has generated 75,000 comments … and is STILL generating comments. I find it fascinating that the same 20 or 30 people have been pissing at each other over smoking bans on the same thread for five years. (By the way, I highly recommend avoiding Topix because that site has become really lousy with spyware and malware.)

According to this article, more than 50 bars in Ohio have amassed more than $10,000 in fines. There have been a total of 33,000 citations written against bars over the past four years, totalling $2.5 million in fines. The state has collected about $775,000 of that money.

Part of Zeno’s argument is that it is being cited, even for posting “no smoking signs” and not putting out ashtrays, while the people lighting up — the smokers — are not cited. And it is not their responsibility to enforce the state law. (Not sure I buy that theory — businesses are liable for what goes on their premises. For instance, many bars have been sued and servers criminally prosecuted for letting people leave shit-faced drunk and then getting in a wreck.)

Zeno’s Bar in Columbus, Ohio, owes $33,000 in fines for repeatedly ignoring the smoking ban. The bar has sued to overturn the ban. A county judge ruled in favour of the bar, but a state court of appeals overturned that ruling and upheld the state law. Zeno’s is challenging the appeals court ruling.

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