Last updated: August 24. 2013 9:18AM - 49 Views

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The Lima NewsYou’d never have expected this merging of efforts: A group that pushed to ban smoking at most indoor places found an ally — for the time being — in one of the groups that very effort threatens.Ohio’s smoking ban is the political gift that just keeps giving. The Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, a trade group representing bars, fought to keep fraternal clubs and veterans groups from landing special smoking privileges, The Associated Press reported. Bar owners believe the exemption for places such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or a Moose Lodge would give those venues an edge over bars. So the association sued — and has won two court victories to prevent smoking in those places. Bar owners believe the exemptions to the indoor smoking ban would speed along the economic deaths many of them stand to suffer because of the ban.Tracy Sabetta, co-chair of Smoke Free Ohio, which put the smoking ban on the 2006 ballot, told AP that letting the Ohio Department of Health exempt veterans and fraternal groups could have set off a domino effect of smoking exemptions. She also pointed out that the American Cancer Society, for which she works, filed a similar lawsuit.The strange bedfellows story seems to end there. The Ohio Licensed Beverage Association is trying to convince those in the Legislature that the smoking ban is bad for their business. But, there’s a little more to the strange bedfellows tale: A group calling itself Smoke Less Ohio offered an alternative smoking ban to the one that 58 percent of voters chose. That smoking ban would have permitted smoking in bingo halls, bars and restaurants with physically separated smoking sections, as well as in bowling alleys, hotels and nursing homes. Among those trying to create exemptions was the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association. Odd bedfellows, indeed.

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