Great Falcon’ smokers protest issue 5

Despite steady rain and cold temperatures, more than 30 students stood huddled together puffing cigars in front of the Union yesterday afternoon.

The students were participating in the Great Falcon Smokeout demonstration, organized by the College Republicans, to show opposition to Issue 5, which will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot and would ban smoking in almost all public places throughout the state, including restaurants, bars and bowling alleys.

As he smoked one of the cigars provided free to the College Republicans by local smoke shops Cut-Rate Tobacco and A Cigar Affair, sophomore John Sengstock said he plans to vote in favor of Issue 4, which would continue to allow smoking in bowling alleys, bingo halls and “any facility from which minors are prohibited,” including bars.

Sengstock also said he hoped the demonstration would inspire onlookers to ask questions about Issues 4 and 5.

“Everybody can see us and what we’re doing here,” he said. “A few people have kind of leered at us, but it’s about spreading our viewpoint.”

For some demonstrators, the right to smoke in public has less to do with the act of smoking itself and more with business owners’ rights.

“This decision should be left up to businesses, not the government,” Conor Kendrick, freshman, said. “It’s the business owners right to decide if smoking will be allowed in a restaurant or bar.”

Still others said the government simply has no good reason to punish smokers for an activity they enjoy.

“I can see where people might think a public smoking ban is good, but in an area as open as a bar, is it really such a big deal if there is smoking?” Matt Saporito, senior, said.

“People’s views are skewed by all kinds of biases,” Sengstock said. “There’s not even any proven fact that secondhand smoke causes cancer.”

Julia Thurston, employee at Cut-Rate Tobacco who attended the demonstration, said voters will ultimately decide what is best for Ohio.

“I think Issue 5 is a little bit out of the ballpark,” she said. “But everyone has their own opinion, and I’m glad we have a choice between the two.”