Sunday, October 15, 2006

State Issues 4 and 5


"When anti-smoking activists hit the streets last year with a petition to ban smoking in nearly every Ohio business, bar and restaurant owners quickly drummed up a response.

The result is a pair of ballot measures that appear similar at first glance but contain key differences.

State Issue 5, the Smoke Free Ohio measure backed by the American Cancer Society, would outlaw smoking in virtually all public businesses.

State Issue 4, dubbed Smoke Less Ohio and backed by bar and restaurant owners with funding from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., would allow smoking in bars and parts of restaurants.

Another difference might seem technical but could determine which measure becomes law.

State Issue 5 is an initiated statute, carrying the same weight as any law passed by the General Assembly. State Issue 4 would be written into the Ohio Constitution, making it much more difficult to amend or repeal.

If voters pass both measures, only State Issue 4 would take effect since a constitutional amendment trumps a statute."
from The Columbus Dispatch

Letter written in response to letter published by ThisWeekNews.


In his letter regarding statewide Issues 4 and 5, Leonard Fisher, chair of the Delaware County Tobacco-Free Coalition, tries to make the point that individual rights are not involved in these ballot issues. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Currently, I exercise my right to smoke-free environments on a daily basis by using my dollars to vote for restaurants that provide me with a smoke-free meal. Those who chose to smoke can vote with their dollars for restaurants that allow smoking or designated smoking areas. These personal decision are the application of individual rights in a free society. And, let's not forget, that property owners used to have the right to decide the manner in which their property is used. Life, Liberty, and Property are essential qualities of freedom.

The backers of local smoking ordinances, and now state-wide issues, have no concern for those three qualities of freedom. They want to supplant individual liberty with their own government-enforced values. It's sad to see someone in Delaware County advocate for the state to intervene in the personal decisions of every Ohioan - especially when that individual can already act on his preference for smoke-free environments.

Years ago, CS Lewis noted that the seemingly well-intentioned individual can create more harm than good. Using local ordinances and statewide issues to exchange freedom for state control of personal decisions brings to mind a cautionary statement from a Founding Father: Benjamin Franklin, after being asked what form of government resulted from the Constitution Convention, replied, "A republic if you can keep it." Let's vote No for both Issue 4 and Issue 5 and keep the republic.

Jim Fedako

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