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Smoking task force ponders ballot option

The city of Toledo's smoking-ban task force heard expert testimony on how to carry out a citizen voter initiative yesterday, but council President Louis Escobar said council won't turn the responsibility over to city voters.

B.J. Fischer, president of Bowling Green City Council, talked about a citizen initiative that led to Bowling Green's 2001 ban on smoking in public places. Joe Kidd, director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, explained the mechanics of a petition drive.

Mr. Escobar said he invited the two speakers to the weekly meeting of the task force for informational purposes.

But he said he and Mayor Jack Ford are committed to introducing an ordinance to restrict smoking in bars and restaurants.

The task force also discussed how to define a bar and a restaurant, and how such a ban would be enforced.

Mr. Kidd said a petition would require the signatures of 9,479 registered Toledo voters.

Mr. Fischer said the smoking ban in Bowling Green was quickly accepted by bar and restaurant owners because it had been passed by voters. But he said such a campaign could be expensive.

Mr. Escobar said an ordinance could be ready for a vote by council by late May.

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