Ohio goes smoke-free

If Ohio can do it, any state in the country can do it
Smoking in Ohio is about to undergo a major change.
Starting Thursday, December 7, 2006, forget about smoking in Ohio bars, restaurants, bingo halls and private clubs. Even the last bastions of smoke-filled heaven, bowling alleys, will be off-limits for smokers. Ashtrays have effectively been outlawed.
This is the thrust of one of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the nation, approved by voters last month, making Ohio the first state in the Midwest to go smoke-free and the first tobacco-producing state to enact such a ban.
But the practical effect of the new law may reach far beyond Ohio. Supporters of smoking prohibitions in the workplace and entertainment facilities see the vote in Ohio as a possible tipping point, an indication that years of resistance to smoking restrictions in the so-called Heartland have been futile and that other states may follow.
‘If Ohio can do it, any state in the country can do it,’ said Shelly Kiser of the American Lung Association of Ohio. ‘This movement is not going to stop here.’
While that is only a prediction, there is growing evidence that the decade’s old anti-smoking campaign has gained new footing nationwide. Seventeen states {ndash}mostly in the northeast and west– currently have smoking bans, and three more were added as a result of public votes last month in Arizona, Nevada and Ohio.
Some restaurant and bowling alley owners in Ohio said they were stunned by the statewide smoking ban. Individual cities in Ohio, including Columbus, had already enacted their own smoking bans, but a statewide ban surprised opponents.
‘I never thought I’d see the day,’ said Vickie Thompson, co-owner with her husband Ralph of Brown’s Grill and Bowling Lanes in Cleveland. The six-lane bowling alley has been in continuous operation since 1912 and is one of the oldest in the nation.
‘I figure 60 percent of our customers smoke,’ said Thompson, adding she is not sure how to accommodate the smokers. ‘I expect there to be a little bit of fall-off (in business) but what are you going to do? It’s not as if you can go down the street. We’re all in this together.’
The statewide leveling of the playing field pleases John Carlson, general manager of the Columbus Square Bowling Palace, a 24/7 operation of 64 lanes that promotes itself as the ‘Country Club of Ohio Bowling Centers.’ Carlson’s operation has labored under but adjusted to a nearly two-year old smoking ban in Columbus.
‘Our league bowlers really took it in stride,’ Carlson said. ‘After the 10th frame you saw guys put on their footies and go outside to the patio to smoke.’
To accommodate bowlers during the winter months, Carlson said, he set up smoking tents with heaters.
‘Never thought I’d see a smoke-less bowling alley,’ said Carlson, who has worked at Columbus Square for more than 20 years.

As some of you already know, I’ve been a social smoker for years. When I go out to the bars with my friends and have some drinks, I smoke. Some of you also know that as the situation here at home escalated, I started smoking more and more and more. Within the last couple months, I worked my way up to going through a pack a week.

When this vote became a legal reality a month ago, I promised myself I would quit. Really what choice do I have? I cut down from 5 a day to 4, then 3, then 2, then half in the morning and half at night and finally….Monday night I lit one up, took a couple puffs, snuffed it out, tossed it and haven’t had another one since. C’mon be proud of me. I always got a lecture every time I lit one about how bad it was for me and now, nobody has anything to say. I should get a blue ribbon or something……


I really need to thank Jer for getting me through this (smile). When I told him I was gonna quit, I explained how hard it was going to be because I have a, well, an oral fixation. I was really worried about stuffing my face with food in order to kill the preoccupation of wanting a cigarette in my mouth. So the solution became, don’t ask me how,  that at least once a day, he lets me bite him. lol. The poor guy has BRUISES, all over his arms. lol. It’s become a joke between us. One I’m sure nobody else will understand, but it’s ours and I like it. I think Jer, despite all his squirming and yelling, likes it to.

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