Monday, September 29, 2003

Smoke bans pushed in Ohio

The Associated Press

LIMA, Ohio - A movement to restrict smoking in public continues to build momentum in northwest Ohio.

The Findlay City Council has formed a committee to consider a ban on smoking in public places, hoping to follow the lead of cities including Toledo and Bowling Green.

Tom Davis, substance abuse prevention coordinator for the Findlay Health Department, said he'd like his city to emulate Toledo's restriction, which prohibits smoking in indoor public places with few exceptions. Bowling Green has similar rules, but bars are exempt.

"Let's clean up indoor air," Davis said. "Let's not subject workers, who have no choice but to be in the building, to a class one carcinogen."

Findlay councilwoman Marcia Barkey, who heads the committee that's evaluating an ordinance to restrict smoking, said a proposal is at least a year away. She said the goal would be to curb smoking in public buildings.

"Smoke in your own home or your own car, but you shouldn't pollute my air," she said.

Meanwhile, anti-smoking advocates in other Ohio cities are working on smoking restrictions.

A Cleveland task force is considering a tougher smoking ordinance and proponents of a smoking ban in Dayton have met with city leaders there. The issue also is being discussed in the northwest Ohio town of Wauseon.

Ohio is fourth in the nation in the number of adult smokers, according to federal statistics.

Restaurant owners in affected areas say smoking bans have been bad for business. Linda Stacey, who owns the Corner Grill in Bowling Green, said she began losing regular customers two years ago after the city banned smoking in restaurants that didn't have smoking rooms with separate ventilation.

"It really hurts the little guy," Stacey said.

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Sunday's local news report