REGISTER VIEWPOINT: The smoke clears

Details, details. We said they'd be worked out, and it looks as though they are. Remember that smoking ban we all app
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

Details, details. We said they'd be worked out, and it looks as though they are.

Remember that smoking ban we all approved back in November, the one that bit us in the er, butt because "public place" meant things we didn't think it meant?

Turns out the Ohio Department of Health is proposing a rule change, one that would let people smoke in veterans' halls and in private clubs.

Those were included in the ban because club members smoking would subject employees to secondhand smoke. Veterans and club members were up in arms -- the posts and clubs weren't truly public, being members-only, and places such as the Ohio Veterans Home were a little nebulous, because the veterans home is, well, the veterans' home -- and shouldn't you be able to smoke in your home?

But some deployed logic in addition to vituperation in their assault on the ban, and the health department ended up seeing the logic -- in particular, the argument that veterans post employees tend to be post members, so what's the problem?

This isn't a done deal; a legislative committee has to review the health department's suggested rule changes next month and vote yes or no, but it's a good sign of something this newspaper predicted and hoped would happen: Unintended consequences of the ban would be addressed and ironed out.

This doesn't have to mean the death knell for the smoking ban overall, though. We're still in favor of banning smokes in truly public places, including non-exclusive eateries and drinkeries. But defining what constitutes a public place -- strictly and definitively -- may strengthen the ban instead of weakening it -- by laying out precisely where it can legally take effect and where it can't. Not everyone will be happy with where the line is drawn, but drawn it must be, for the ban to work as it should -- protecting smokers' rights to smoke, and non-smokers' rights to not.