Saturday, November 04, 2006

Smokeless vs Smoke Screen: Issues 4 and 5

A colleague of mine circulated the following email. In the nature of the case, I can't imagine he would object to my sharing it:

Dear Ohio friends and acquaintances,

I'm writing about two smoking-related measures on the Ohio ballot, and to request that you vote No on Issue 4 and Yes on Issue 5. Issue 5 would benefit public health immensely. Issue 4 is a sham written by Big Tobacco's lobbyists.

This set of issues has particular meaning for our family, which as many of you may know has waged multiple battles against cancer, as well as a direct importance for me because of my asthma. I suspect many of you may have similar direct stake in the issue, but since it's been clouded in deliberate confusion some clarification may be in order.

Here is the difference:

The worthy measure is Issue 5, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and a coalition of health groups called "Smoke Free Ohio," including the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners. This measure would eliminate smoking in indoor public working environments, thereby ensuring the safety of people who work in the hospitality industry while protecting the right of non-smokers to be free from secondhand smoke.

This would be a giant leap forward for the public health of this state, and help to eliminate some of the more than 400,000 needless premature deaths from smoking-related causes (mainly cancer) that occur every year in this country. As you may know, even "non-smoking" sections in restaurants are pervaded with second-hand smoke, affecting children and other innocents.

The sham measure is Issue 4, put forward by the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, RJReynolds Tobacco and other pro-smoking corporate donors under a PAC entitled "Smoke Less Ohio," a spin name for special interests who desire more smoking in Ohio. Issue 4 would create a constitutional amendment that would ban smoking in a few places while exempting bars, bowling alleys and bingo halls, requiring smoking sections in all restaurants, and repealing all current municipalities' legislation restricting smoking, barring any further local choice in the matter.

Right now Ohioans are informed enough to prefer Issue 5 over Issue 4, in polls. However, *both* measures look likely to pass, and if that occurs, Issue 4 will trump Issue 5, since it is a constitutional amendment. In one fell swoop it will simultaneously override all local ordinances, like the excellent one in Columbus, therefore *increasing* smoking in Ohio. This of course is exactly what Big Tobacco wants -- and why it has poured huge sums into television advertising, outspending Smoke Free Ohio by a 5-1 ratio.

Please tell your friends and family No on 4! Yes on 5! Word of mouth is critical to letting Ohioans know that almost all public health, scientific, and medical experts support Issue 5 and oppose Issue 4.

I'm probably whistling into the wind here, but I thought I ought not let this moment pass without saying something. I'm hoping this message -- or some more eloquent one that you write on your own -- gets forwarded around Ohio. Would you be willing to forward this on to all your friends and family in Ohio? If they in turn forward it, then, well, I'll try not to get my hopes up, but...

More information can be found at SmokeFreeOhio .


Blogger Apollo11 said...

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6:48 AM  

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