COLUMBUS Smoking bill goes to House
The bill, which passed in the Senate, would make banning smoking a responsibility of elected officials, not health boards.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- City councils and township trustees would be able to approve or reject cigarette or tobacco-related regulations issued by health boards under a bill passed in the Ohio Senate.
Senators passed the bill, sponsored by state Sen. Lynn R. Wachtmann, by a vote of 27-5, which sends the proposal to the Ohio House. All Mahoning Valley senators voted for the bill.
"Elected officials need to be making these kinds of decisions," said Wachtmann, a Napoleon Republican.
Under the bill, no health district orders or rules related to the sale or use of cigarettes and tobacco products would be effective in a city or township unless the legislative authority of the local government adopts the rules.
If the municipality or township decides to adopt the rules, the bill would require cities, villages or townships to have at least one public hearing before taking action, according to an analysis of the proposal.
Wachtmann said some health boards have sought to ban smoking even in private businesses.
Time limit rejected: Senators defeated an amendment offered by state Sen. Michael C. Shoemaker, a Bourneville Democrat, that would have mandated a township or municipality to adopt or reject a proposed health district order within 120 days after receipt of the order or the proposed order would take effect.
The American Lung Association of Ohio is among those that oppose Wachtmann's measure.
Jennifer Tisone Price, vice president of public affairs for the lung association, said she and other opponents will continue to oppose the measure as it moves to the House for consideration.
Health boards already are accountable to the people, she said. They are generally accountable to elected officials that appoint them, she added.
Ohio is divided into health districts, which are political entities separate from local governments. Their governing boards, however, are appointed most often by officials from municipal corporations, townships and counties. Consideration in the House will begin later this year, House officials said.