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Published: 6/16/2004

Group wants Oregon to restrict smoking

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After restricting smoking in Toledo's bars, members of the Group Against Smoking Pollution are looking eastward.

GASP Oregon is the newest lobby formed to champion smoke-free areas in taverns and eateries there.

Ruth Ankele, a charter member, said she'd like to see Oregon craft an ordinance similar to the one Toledo enacted in July, 2003, that allows smoking only in bars and restaurants with a separately ventilated, designated area.

"I'm open to what the other residents of Oregon would like to have happen," she said. "I feel strongly enough about this issue that I'll certainly do what I can."

But owners of Oregon's taverns aren't thrilled about a law that would affect their businesses.

Pat Burns, owner of Game Time Sports Pub on South Lallendorf Road, said if there was a need for a nonsmoking bar in Oregon, or even Toledo, someone would have opened one.

"I'm not a smoker, but cigarettes are not an illegal substance in the United States, so why are you banning it?" he asked.

The group is gathering support from residents and hopes to take the idea to City Council.

Council members "don't show much interest in establishing legislation. However, I get the impression that the only thing they'd be willing to do is send it to the ballot," said council President Michael Sheehy.

"I think there is some hesitancy that establishing a ban right now would have a chilling effect on some of the economic development we've accomplished in this region," he added.

Several Ohio cities, including Findlay, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, are considering smoking bans.

"Now we're continuing on with the suburbs," said Stu Kerr, regional policy coordinator for Tobacco Free Ohio and a charter member of GASP Toledo.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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