Tuesday may have been a tough day for Republicans, but it was a disaster for the tobacco industry. The voters in Nevada, Ohio and Arizona mandated indoor smoke bans like the one Washingtonians approved last year.
The industry has developed a game plan to counter these initiatives: It runs “anti-smoking” initiatives of its own that contain key loopholes and sometimes forbid local governments from enacting tougher bans. Voters rejected the industry alternatives in all three states.
The American Lung Association (lungs – aren’t they wonderful things?) tracks these measures on a special page devoted to state tobacco policies. A somewhat more over-the-top view comes from Joe Cherner, who bills himself as “president of SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc.” and seems to be the Carrie Nation of the smoke-ban movement.
Cherner just broadcast an email trumpeting the triumph Tuesday’s bans:
Clean Indoor Air Wins in a Landslide
Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada clear the air, reject opposition initiatives
USA, 11/8/06– Voters in Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada saw through the smokescreen and voted overwhelmingly in favor of clean indoor air ballot initiatives. Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada will thus become the 15th, 16th, and 17th states in the U.S. to enact comprehensive smokefree legislation for workers, including restaurant and bar workers. They join California, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Montana, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey, Utah, Colorado, and Hawaii, as well as Puerto Rico, and Washington DC.
In each state (Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada), health groups (led by the American Cancer Society) collected signatures to place comprehensive smokefree workplace initiatives on the ballot. In a new tactic, opponents (led by tobacco and gambling interests) placed similar sounding, but vastly different, initiatives on the ballot. Voters overwhelmingly passed the health group initiatives and soundly defeated opponent initiatives.
“Although opponents spent more money, the media did a great job explaining the issues to voters,” says Joe Cherner, president of SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc. “In a world where money usually wins, it’s refreshing to see health come out on top. What a wonderful day for Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada workers, who will soon be able to enjoy safe, clean air in their workplace.”