Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Smoking Ban Challenge

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the state’s indoor smoking ban brought by a Columbus bar owner against the City of Columbus.

The suit contends that the law approved by Ohio voters is unconstitutional, after Zeno’s Victorian Village bar was cited for violations and fined $33,000. The Ohio Department of Health originally sued Zeno’s for violations. The bar then countersued claiming the law was unconstitutional.

The Franklin County Common Pleas Court initially ruled in favor of the bar owners in the countersuit, but the 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus upheld the state law, saying there was overwhelming evidence that bar owners had intentionally violated the ban.

Ohio voters approved a referendum in 2006 to ban Smoking in most indoor, public places. The Ohio Department of Health began enforcing the law in 2007.  Penalties for proprietors violating the ban range from a warning letter to fines of $100 to $2,500.  Fines can be doubled for intentional violations.

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