Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Indoor Smoking Ban

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously, May 22, that enforcement of Ohio's indoor smoking ban is constitutional, meaning that state officials can now go after more than 1,000 establishments in Ohio that owe a combined total of $2.5 million in fines.  

Violators who fail to pay accumulated fines plus interest could have liens placed on their properties or have their liquor licenses revoked or suspended.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio Department of Liquor Control is moving forward to pull the licenses of five bars across the state.  

The lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) was initiated by Zeno’s Bar and Grill, Columbus.  Zeno's received 10 citations from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) totaling $33,000 for allowing patrons to smoke in their facility after the ban went into effect.  The Ohio Osteopathic Association joined the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Ohio Health Commissioners and others in supporting the Ohio Department of Health's right to enforce the law, in an amicus brief filed earlier this year. 

Polling has shown that 69% of Ohioans support the law and a recent analysis of taxable sales from bars and restaurants released by ODH found the ban did not have a significant economic impact on those establishments as a whole  The ban, approved by referendum in 2006, received a setback last year when the state budget bill passed without funding to maintain the complaint line and for local boards of health to enforce the law. Without funding for enforcement and the threat of fines or penalties, businesses had little incentive to follow the law.

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