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Published: Sunday, 7/20/2003

Ford to fight smoking ban repeal effort

Mayor Jack Ford said yesterday that he vigorously will fight an effort to repeal the smoking ban he pushed for and city council passed recently.

“Nothing is more important than the health of our citizens, and these smoking regulations will help protect us against dangerous second-hand smoke,” Mr. Ford said in a statement released yesterday.

“While I support the citizen's right to petition for an election, I will work hard to uphold the regulations if the issue is on the ballot,” the statement said.

Mayor Ford told The Blade Friday, as reported in yesterday's editions, that he would not campaign against the referendum.

“I believe in the democratic process,” he said. “However, I also believe that if the referendum is put to a vote of the people, the majority will vote in favor of the smoking ban.”

Arnie Elzey, owner of Arnie's Eating and Drinking Saloon, and one of the repeal leaders, said he and other bar owners feel confident about a vote.

“I think when something like [the smoking ban] will affect so many people, the people should decide,” Mr. Elzey said. “I think the mayor and others will be surprised if this makes the ballot. I think they will find that not as many people support this as they think.”

Mr. Elzey said it will take a lot of hard work to get enough signatures, but organizers had people working over the weekend collecting signatures.

“We have a meeting on Wednesday to see where we are,” he said. “We will have a better gauge then of our progress.”

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