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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2003

Smoking limits may go to voters in Wauseon

The leader of a citizens group trying to limit smoking in all public places in Wauseon, including bars and restaurants, says she has enough signatures to put the anti-smoking measure on the city's ballot this fall.

Joan Laidlaw, leader of the Tobacco Free Fulton County Coalition, said her group has collected the necessary 200 signatures, but hopes to get another 200 by an August deadline.

The group's referendum would allow smoking inside public places, such as restaurants, only if the smoking was done inside an enclosed room with separate ventilation, Ms. Laidlaw said. She noted that Wauseon city council could still amend the referendum if it passes.

In a twist, another of the group's leaders - Wauseon mayor Jerry Matheny - said yesterday he no longer supports the type of ban Ms. Laidlaw is pushing, even though he initially said he did endorse the proposal.

Mr. Matheny said he has determined that the smoking ban proposal that Ms. Laidlaw wants is too strict and financially burdensome for business. He said he would rather require businesses to install “smoke eaters,” instead of requiring separate smoking rooms.

Ms. Laidlaw said she didn't want to discuss Mr. Matheny's change of mind.

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