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Opponents of an amendment that would weaken Toledo's smoking ban - known as "Issue 4" on the Nov. 2 ballot - hit the next stage of their campaign today, distributing the first of 1,000 signs that will soon pepper the lawns of residences and health agencies across the city.
"Working in restaurants, and even going out with my friends at night, knowing you have to take your inhaler with you because you don't know how smoky it's going to be, it was difficult. That's why I'm here," said college student Erin Genide, 23, of Toledo, who also said she suffers from asthma but has worked in bars and restaurants since high school.
"I worry about the people that don't know they're ill, that don't realize how bad second-hand smoke is for them," said Holly Kowalczk, 47, of Whitehouse, a lung cancer survivor who works at St. Luke's Medical Center as a respiratory therapist.
Ms. Genide and Ms. Kowalczk were two of about a dozen volunteers who showed up to help Citizens for a Healthy Toledo, which opposes amending the smoking ban. The amendment would allow smoking in bars, bowling alleys, and bingo parlors and weaken restrictions in restaurants.
The group will be competing for turf space with members of Citizens for Common Sense, the group of bar and restaurant owners that sponsored the amendment. The citizens group has distributed 4,000 of the 5,000 signs it had printed, said Arnie Elzey, one of the group's leaders.
"I'm sympathetic to the health groups' cause, but how many more businesses need to close before they realize the ban is bad for Toledo?" said Julie Ketterman, a nonsmoker who has worked for more than 12 years as general manager of The Distillery, owned by Jim Avolt, a leading proponent of the ballot issue.
Around 20 volunteers are involved in Citizens for a Healthy Toledo's sign effort, said Terry Carey, campaign coordinator. The American Cancer Society, American Heart and Lung Associations, and the Lucas County Healthy Communities Foundation, which includes all four major hospitals and health systems in the area, support the ban.