Supporters and opponents to Columbus smoking ban debate

Columbus City Council heard testimony Tuesday from persons for and against a city wide smoking ban. Opponents of the ban say business and the local economy will suffer. Proponents say the health of the public is too important to ignore.

Hundreds of cities and states have adopted smoking bans in recent years…namely Boston, Toledo, New York and California. Backers of a smoking ban in Columbus say the trend should expand to the capital city.

Rob Crane is with Smokefree Columbus, which developed the ban proposal. He says a smoking ban is a health issue.

The proposal before Columbus City Council prohibits smoking at all public restaurants, bars and bowling alleys. Smokers would have to go outside and stand 20 feet away from a business entrance to smoke.

Excluded from the proposal are 20 percent of hotel rooms that may be designated smoking.

Jacob Evans is vice president of government affairs with the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association. Evans says businesses should not be forced into going smoke-free.

He argues businesses that depend on smokers to survive will be forced to close their doors if a smoking ban goes into affect. Evans cites data from New York bar owners who say they’ve lost business since the state invoked a smoking ban in public places.

But Rob Crane says New York City has seen a marked increase in patronage since the ban was put into place.

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