Lucas County bar and restaurant owners oppose a ban on smoking inside public places because most of their customers expect smoking to be allowed, Arnie Elzey, owner of Arnie's Eating and Drinking Saloon in West Toledo, said yesterday during a taping of The Editors television program.
“We determine what our customers want us to do. In my establishment 75 to 85 percent of my customers smoke,” Mr. Elzey said. “It's part of their social atmosphere; that's what they go into a bar for.”
Mr. Elzey is one of a group of bar and restaurant owners who have sued the Toledo-Lucas County board of health over the May 24 decision to ban smoking inside public places, including bars, restaurants, and bowling alleys.
A federal judge has prevented the ban from going into effect while it is being challenged.
Mr. Elzey was joined yesterday by Stu Kerr, the northwest Ohio coordinator for Tobacco Free Ohio in discussing the smoking ban with Thomas Walton, vice president-editor of The Blade.
The Editors will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.
Smokers would not go to places that ban smoking and would travel instead to establishments in Michigan or surrounding counties that allow smoking, according to Mr. Elzey.
Mr. Kerr disputed that. He pointed out that smoking used to be allowed in movie theaters, on airplane flights, and inside a variety of government buildings, but “people adjust very well” to smoking bans.
He said the evidence is clear that secondhand smoke is dangerous, and “now that we know this information it behooves us to act on it.” He pointed to a recent Canadian study that found a significant increase in the risk of lung cancer for nonsmokers who work in smoking establishments.
Mr. Elzey said “there are many studies on both sides” about the potential danger of secondhand smoke and there's no clear consensus on whether secondhand smoke is truly dangerous.