Ohio May Amend Smoking Ban

Two bills introduced by Ohio lawmakers aim to soften the state's strict smoking ban, a law that officials are having a difficult time enforcing.

In 2006, Ohio voters passed a law prohibiting smoking in almost all public places. Recently, though, officials said they are struggling to enforce the ban.

According to the Dayton Daily News, only 5 percent of the 21,648 investigations of smoking violations have resulted in a fine. Health officials and others have blamed the state for not providing the needed funding for proper enforcement.

To help alleviate the enforcement problems, some lawmakers have sought to pass amendments that will clarify the law's language.

Senate Bill 346 would amend the smoking ban to allow lighting up on outdoor patios, as well as in private clubs with a D-4 liquor permit and family-owned businesses.

The bill in the House would allow smoking in cigar bars and also in outdoor seating areas of restaurants.

Rather than use revenues gained from tobacco sales to legally define a cigar bar, as most other bans do, the House bill focuses on ventilation. According to the bill, a cigar bar is a "walk-in humidor that consists of a minimum volume of 300 cubic feet and that has HEPA-designed air filtration systems, carbon filtration, carbon dioxide filtration, smoke eaters, and ozone machines."

Ohio's legislature is scheduled to end its 2008 session this Friday.

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