Three years underway, Ohio’s smoking ban still is meeting with strong criticism and is now being re-challenged in the courts, with opponents claiming the ban is costing small businesses money and jobs.
The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) said it stands behind those trying to appeal a lawsuit against the restrictions in the 10th District Court of Appeals in Franklin County, Ohio. Opponents say enforcement of the ban has gone overboard with health department inspectors making zero allowances, even when establishment owners make every effort to ensure that patrons adhere to the law.
“It’s a mess. Businesses are losing money and jobs in the midst of an economic crisis. This means the state is losing money, too, but the state’s loss of tax revenues are at least being partially offset by fines collected for alleged smoking ban violations,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR.
McCalla noted a recent Federal Reserve Bank study of the economic impact of a statewide smoking ban in the state of Illinois. The study showed the state lost more than $200 million in tax revenues from nine Illinois casinos directly stemming from the one-year-old ban. They collectively lost some $400 million in revenues while casinos in a neighboring state with no smoking ban had flat revenues for the year.
“And there are more losses where that came from-more lost business income, more lost tax revenues and more lost jobs-because of a smoking ban. It’s bad enough we have to put up with an economic downturn while legislators look for ways to make things more difficult for small business owners instead of helping them turn the economy around,” said McCalla.
“Not only should there be no such thing as legislated smoking bans, but the Ohio inspectors are slapping fines and citations willy-nilly against businesses that are doing all they can to enforce the law while their customers light up, inadvertently or not,” he added.
McCalla said the IPCPR, an association of some 2,000 small-business owners of retail smoke shops and premium cigar manufacturers and distributors, is not against an individual business owner’s right to ban smoking on their premises.
“When government decides to run those businesses by telling the owners they can’t allow smoking there, it steps across the line of freedoms as established by the constitution. If you don’t want to be with smokers, don’t go into an establishment that allows smoking. Period,” he said.