Smoking law back under review

Published October 5, 2015 by justicewg

ashtrayTwo news items about the tobacco use ban for 18 year olds that was passed by the Grandview City council.

The Dispatch had a opinion story titled “Smoking ordinance goes a step too far” in the Sunday paper. They covered the main points of the pro and con arguments, but I think the real objection to the law in the piece is the statement about how it will be enforced.

“It would be better public policy not to pass laws government doesn’t mean to enforce.”

That is the hook of the story, and I agree.

Also, the law is back before the council for review. Something I have never seen before is being used, a veto (not sure if it is a veto or something similar) by the mayor is forcing the council to take the ordinance back under consideration. They must pass the law again with a 2/3 majority for it to continue to be in effect. The law passed with a 6 out of 7 majority when it was first passed, so if no council member changes their position it will continue to be law, but we might see some re-thinking going on by council members who have to face voters in November.

According the the city council agenda, the law will be reconsidered at the meeting tonight, Oct 5.

After the council meeting:

The Mayor said he had a number of conversations with the chief of police for Grandview, and he doesn’t see how the law that criminalizes 18 to 21 years olds for smoking can be enforced without causing big legal issues for the city. Giving officers a law to enforce that is so hard to understand when and where it will be used is just asking for bad outcomes.

Mayor DeGraw said he will be returning to the council with a proposed revision of the smoking law that has no criminal penalties for 18 year old smokers. Panzera said he was still in favor of the law as passed. Ed Hastie is still opposed to the whole law, including penalties for selling to 18 year olds. The rest of the council didn’t express an opinion, but I’m guessing they are still in favor.

If you have an opinion, now is the time to email it to the city council members. There is a link on the Council webpage that allows sending to all members with one address.

A Dispatch story published October 6 says the council will probably follow the Mayor’s suggestion and de-criminalize the law for 18 year olds.

Criminal charges removed

(Later) The council acted on the Mayor’s suggestion to remove the criminal charges for 18 year olds. The revised law will still make it an offense to sell to 18 to 21 year olds (who can always step across the line into Columbus, as noted by Councilman Ed Hastie). The ban passed by a 6-1 vote.

Maybe a part of the law that got overlooked in the controversy, the ordinance also bans outdoor smoking in public recreational places. No more smoking while watching ball games, although I think there was already a ban on smoking in city parks.

Grandview in the news

The smoking ban was one of those stories that attracted the writers at blogs and newspapers, almost as much as the teen peeper turned in by his father last year. The Daily Signal (a right wing Heritage Foundation blog) ran the story, a Youngstown station, The Washington Times, and others.

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